AUSTIN (KXAN) — Long lines spaced six-feet apart could be seen outside polling places across Central Texas on the first day of early voting.
“Whoever they’re voting for, I’m just glad to see people voting. In spite of this coronavirus, people still want change,” said Anthony Martin, a voter who wanted to cast his ballot as soon as he could.
Local health authority Dr. Mark Escott told Travis County Commissioners in a briefing Tuesday that Austin Public Health has worked closely with Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir and her office on a special plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“I’m pleased with the measures that Dana has taken, the education that has been provided to poll workers and feel confident that individuals, if they choose to vote in person, can do so with minimal risk,” Escott said.
Debeauvoir says masks and distancing are of utmost importance at polling sites.
“All of our poll workers will be wearing masks. Their judges and their delegates are going to be wearing masks. And we require every voter to wear a mask,” she said.
However, should a voter choose not to wear a mask, the county can’t stop that person from casting a ballot.
“That would be most unfortunate for everyone around this person,” Debeauvoir said. “They will still get to keep their right to vote, but we are going to put them as far away from everybody else as we possibly can.”
The County Clerk’s Office has also set up standards for cleaning and avoiding contact at the polls.
“We also clean the equipment frequently during the day, but actually, voters don’t have to touch anything when they come in to vote. They’ll have a plastic finger covering to sign the poll book and then they’ll have a popsicle stick to mark their choices on the ballot marking device,” she said.