Tarrant County expects smooth primary runoff election

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Tarrant County will begin conducting early voting June 29 leading up to primary runoff election day July 14. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Tarrant County will begin conducting early voting June 29 leading up to primary runoff election day July 14. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Conducting an election in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is a logistical challenge, but Tarrant County expects to pass the test as the primary runoff election looms July 14.

The first day of early voting is June 29, and per expanded dates set by the state government due to COVID-19, it runs through July 10.

Voters eligible to apply for a mail-in ballot include those who will be out of the county during the entire voting period, people with disabilities, and people who are age 65 and older. Registered voters have had since Jan. 1 to apply for a mail-in ballot, and more than 28,000 residents have applied so far.

County residents can still receive a mail-in ballot as long as the elections office receives an application by July 2 and a returned ballot postmarked by July 14.

If constituents choose to vote in person, they can expect a familiar process with a handful of new safety measures.

“It’s going to look different with people wearing masks, gloves and those types of things, but the actual act of voting itself is hopefully going to be familiar from the past two elections,” Elections Administrator Heider Garcia said. “We’re providing poll workers with masks, face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer as they’re going to be sitting there all day and interacting with a lot of people. For voters, we’re asking for social distancing while waiting in line.

“We’ll have masks available in case you forgot one and want to use one," he said.

In addition to encouraging voters to take the same precautions as poll workers, Tarrant County invested in devices that clean the voting styluses after each voter exits the polling booth.

While election workers tend to be retirees and a demographic that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers more vulnerable, Garcia said he has not noticed a considerable drop-off in volunteers. Each polling location should be adequately staffed, he said.

“We always have a few vacancies close to election day,” Garcia said. “It’s not uncommon for us the day before the election to be scrambling for four or five judges, and that’s pretty much where we are right now. This is a situation that’s changing by the day. The numbers are going up, and maybe some people who are comfortable aren’t going to be comfortable. But right now, we’re in a good spot.”

A second challenge counties across the state must grapple with is having the manpower to count the ballots and declare results on election night. Garcia said Tarrant County should be in good shape.

“We’ll be able to post all of the early voting results because early voting finishes on a Friday, and the election is on a Tuesday,” he said. “We’ll already have all the memory cards we’ve used for early voting. Those results will be posted at 7 p.m. [July 14]. All the mail that has been received up to then will be processed, posted and included in that count. As the polling places close, we’ll get their results and add them through the night. We’ll wrap up the night posting every election day site, every early voting in-person count and every absentee ballot that has been received up to that day.

“The only thing we’ll have after election day are either provisionals or absentees that come in too close to the cutoff moment on election day that we cannot add to the account or that come in after election day.”

Here are the races and candidates who will be on the ballot for the primary runoff election:

Democratic Party ballot:

U.S. senator: Mary Hager and Royce West

U.S. House, District 24: Kim Olson and Candance Valenzuela

Railroad commissioner: Roberto Alonzo and Christa Castañeda

County constable, Precinct 5: John Wright and Pedro Munoz

Republican Party ballot:

Justice, 2nd Court of Appeals District, Place 7: Elizabeth Beach and Brian Walker

Precinct 3390 chair: Jonathan Grummer and John Brieger

City of Fort Worth special election: Whether the Fort Worth Crime Control and Prevention District should be continued for 10 years along with the sales tax to fund the district.

To apply for a Tarrant County mail-in ballot, click here for instructions.

Registered voters who live in Tarrant County may vote at any polling location in the county. See below for a list of polling sites and hours during early voting.



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