“It’s a joke,” said Gilbert Hernandez, 52, who arrived to vote in the Democratic primary with his family, all of whom wore masks. “The way that our government has responded to this crisis, it’s compounding a very serious problem.”
The pandemic has caused unprecedented election disruptions around the U.S. as states have pushed back their elections to manage an onslaught of poll worker cancellations and consolidation of polling places. On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence wore a mask in Dallas and praised Abbott for his decisions to reopen the state and then dial back those plans, saying “about two weeks ago something changed.”
One consolation for elections officials is that primary runoffs typically have low turnout in Texas, where a growing blue streak in America’s biggest red state is giving Democrats hope. Their voters are picking a U.S. Senate nominee to run against Republican incumbent John Cornyn, choosing between Air Force veteran MJ Hegar and state Sen. Royce West.
There are also closely watched GOP congressional runoffs, including President Donald Trump’s former doctor, Ronny Jackson, running for a seat in the Texas Panhandle.
A steady trickle of eager morning voters — all arriving in masks — kept poll workers busy at Davis Elementary School in Austin. Voting machines were six feet apart and wiped down frequently. Poll workers sat behind plastic shields, and blue tape on the floor encouraged voters in line to keep their distance from one another.