Tarrant, other Texas counties rely on youth to fill poll worker shortages during general election

Kyler Holder, theatre junior and poll worker, scans a barcode during the first day of early voting Oct. 13 at the Maverick Activities Center. Holder said this is his first year as a poll worker.

As an immunocompromised individual, CJ Tovar’s plan this election season was to vote early. For the music education sophomore, this was the safest way to make their voice heard.

Tovar voted at the Maverick Activities Center, which has been a polling location for Tarrant County since early voting began Oct. 13. The MAC has safety protocols in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing markers and hand sanitizer.

These safety guidelines, along with trying to avoid the expected long lines on Election Day, are why Tovar thought early voting at the MAC was their safest option.

Political science professor Thomas Marshall said one of the reasons early voting turnout has been high is because people are trying to avoid the large groups and long wait times expected on Election Day.

Marshall recommends voting early and finding a polling site with fewer people.

He said immunocompromised individuals who are concerned with in-person voting can request an application for mail-in voting.

In Tarrant County, the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 23. People can visit the Tarrant County elections website to request an application.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted normal life, and the 2020 general election season wasn’t an exception. But people can still exercise their civic duty while staying as safe as possible.

While Tarrant County cannot require people to wear masks at polling locations, Health Services director Angela Middleton recommends all voters wear a mask to keep each other safe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth face coverings are critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19, particularly when used universally within communities.

Before going to the polls, Middleton said it’s a good idea to bring your own pen, pencil or stylus and hand sanitizer. Don’t forget to wash or disinfect your hands when entering and leaving the polling station.

Middleton also advises people to contact their county officials for voting alternatives such as curbside voting if feeling sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. In Tarrant County, voters can visit the county’s website to see if they’re eligible for curbside voting.

ARLINGTON EARLY VOTING SITES

  • Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center St., Arlington, 76014
  • Elzie Odom Athletic Center, 1601 NE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington, 76006
  • Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington, 4002 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington, 76013
  • City of Arlington South Service Center, 1100 SW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington, 76017
  • Tarrant County Sub-Courthouse in Arlington, 700 E. Abram St., Arlington, 76010
  • Tarrant County College Southeast Campus EMB - Portable Building, 2100 Southeast Parkway, Arlington, 76018
  • University of Texas at Arlington Maverick Activities Center, 500 W. Nedderman Drive, Arlington, 76019

Early voting runs through Oct. 30. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 26-30.

Tarrant County also recently approved the opening of eight additional early voting locations, including one in Arlington, for Oct. 29 and 30. The decision was made in anticipation of higher voter turnout during the last days of early voting.

@winston_martin

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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