DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Early voting starts Tuesday and the American Airlines Center In Dallas will serve as Dallas County’s largest polling location.
On Monday, preparations were made made to try and make it a safe experience.
There are social distancing markers set up outside the AAC.
Inside, masks will be required.
There are hand sanitizing stations and the voting machines are spaced six feet apart.
Everyone registered to vote in Dallas County is eligible to vote at the AAC. There will also be a drive-thru option.
“Almost doubling the number of voters who can vote at one time,” said Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole.
Voters will enter on the north side of the building and check in at one of twenty stations.
They’ll cast ballots in the concourse, where fifty ballot marking machines now line the hall.
To prevent voters from touching the same screen, the county will provide each one with a stylus to make their selections. Voters can also opt to bring their own.
In 33 years with Dallas County, Pippins Poole has never seen an election like this one.
“Very stressful,” she said, laughing. “You know, they really don’t give you instructions on an elections during a pandemic.”
Voter turnout may also break records.
The county expects the number of mail-in ballots it receives to double or even triple.
Activity on its website has spiked with people looking for voting information.
“The e-mails that we get and the phone calls that we get, there’s a lot of interest,” said Pippins-Poole.
Pippins-Poole predicts that enthusiasm will create crowds the first few days of early voting. Procrastination, she says, usually leads to crowds the last few days, too.
To better accommodate voters wanting to avoid the crowds, though, early voting this year will stretch nearly three weeks.
“We have an extra week so you don’t have to be the very first one,” said Pippins-Poole.
Dallas County registered voters can choose from more than sixty voting locations and may find shorter lines elsewhere.
Voting at the AAC, though, will come with one extra perk.
Instead of a sticker, voters will receive an “I Voted” pin to show off.
The AAC opening to voters is a part of the Dallas Mavericks’ “Take Action Plan” to address racial inequality and social injustice.
It encourages civil engagement which includes voting in elections.
It’s something both Mark Cuban and Dallas residents have been vocal about.
“As an African-American, because my ancestors suffered and died for the right to vote so it’s extremely important,” Anisa James said.
“All cultures, we have to step up and be responsible,” Hakeem Montgomery said.
During the last presidential election, millions of voters reported they didn’t vote in large part because there was no way for them to get to the polls. Those who live downtown say the AAC offers a convenient way for thousands of residents to vote.
“It’s great,” Brandon Cundith said. “It’s accessible. It’s right here, steps from our apartment. There’s a lot of multi-family around here so it’s great for everyone who is an apartment nearby.”
Early voting will last from October 13 through October 30.
The AAC will also be open on election day.
Those who plan to vote at the AAC, can part for free at the Lexus parking garage.
Andrea Lucia contributed to this report.