PLANO, Texas – As coronavirus cases skyrocketed in Texas, Regina Greenwell turned out to vote Monday with the intention of minimizing risks.
He wore a mask, which is not required in Texas, where the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has more than tripled in the past month. He examined the line from his car to the game how long he would be inside. He brought his own ballpoint pen, but inside was a touchscreen system with disposable latex finger guards for voters to use.
"We would like to get to the November elections," said Paul Greenwell, her husband of 70 years.
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Three months after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott postponed the second round to July 14, saying at the time that sticking to the original May election "would threaten the health and safety of many," Texas is voting at a time when the outbreak is much more serious. Confirmed coronavirus cases quadrupled in June, Houston hospitals are filling up, and Abbott is pulling out of one of the fastest reopens in the United States by closing bars and reducing restaurant service.
The result is that at a time when Abbott is urging the public to stay home, thousands begin to go to the polls.
And by the looks of it, even more go to the gym: at the Carpenter Park Recreation Center, a polling place in the Dallas suburb of Plano, most of the constant lunchtime traffic on the first day of early voting. I was there to exercise, not to cast a vote.
"It is a joke. The way our government has responded to this crisis is exacerbating a very serious problem."
"It's a joke," said Gilbert Hernandez, 52, who came to vote in the Democratic primary with his family, all wearing masks. "The way our government has responded to this crisis is compounding a very serious problem."
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The pandemic has caused unprecedented electoral disruptions in the United States, as states have delayed their elections to handle an avalanche of voter worker cancellations and the consolidation of polling places. On Sunday, Vice President Pence wore a mask in Dallas and praised Abbott for his decisions to reopen the state and then redial those plans, saying "about two weeks ago something changed."
One consolation for election officials is that primary runoff is generally low in Texas, where a growing blue streak in the largest red state in the United States is giving hope to Democrats. Its voters are choosing a candidate for the United States Senate to compete against Republican incumbent John Cornyn, choosing between Air Force veteran MJ Hegar and State Senator Royce West.
The second round of the Republican Congress is also being closely watched, including former President Trump's physician Ronny Jackson, who is running for a position in the Texas Panhandle.
A steady trickle of anxious voters in the morning, all arriving in masks, kept poll workers busy at Davis Elementary School in Austin. Voting machines were 6 feet apart and cleaned frequently. Poll workers sat behind plastic shields, and the blue ribbon on the floor encouraged voters in line to stay away from each other.
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Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County Clerk who oversees the Austin election, recruited about 80 poll workers on alert after a large number of failed to show up Tuesday super. Abbott doubled the number of days of early voting for the second round, but DeBeauvoir said the state mostly only provided protocols that the county already had in place.
"It was nice to have them try, but it wasn't that helpful," DeBeauvoir said.
Democrats want Texas to allow all of the state's 16 million registered voters to cast their ballots by mail, but the state is struggling to maintain its restrictions. On Friday, the United States Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to extend the vote by mail in Texas, which Trump tweeted was a "big GAIN" as he alleges without evidence that the widespread vote by mail will lead to fraud. rampant.
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Linda Bianchi, who declined to give her age but described herself as an older person, voted in the Republican primary in Plano without wearing a mask and said she did not feel the need to take additional precautions.
“Don't make ballots by mail. No. Come vote. We did it during the war, "said Bianchi. "It is our wonderful right as Americans."