Texans head to the polls today to cast their votes in the Republican and Democratic primary elections. Politifrog will be providing coverage throughout the day and night. Follow along!
6:00 p.m.: Students and teachers talk about motivations behind votes
Reporting by Olivia Moody
5:00 p.m.: Campaigning continues at poll stations
The campaigning didn’t stop before Super Tuesday. Betsy and Bill Barbre were out at the polls doing last minute campaigning for their favorite candidate.
Reporting by Marissa Stacy
4: 00 p.m.: Poll greeters show support for Putnam at Ahavath Sholom
Three poll greeters on duty at the Congregation Ahavath Sholom expressed their support for the former city councilor who is running a primary challenge against incumbent Rep. Kay Granger.
Chris Putnam has launched a strong challenge to Granger, the most senior Republican women in the House of Representatives.
“Chris has done on a smaller scale what he says he’ll do on a larger scale,” Derrick Wilson, one of the poll greeters, said. “We’ve seen her [Putnam’s] record, which has been to spend more tax money, and his record has been to spend less.”
Wilson said that Granger’s involvement in Panther Island Pavilion project was one issue that inspired him to support Putnam this year.
Wilson said that another key issue was Granger’s stance on abortion, which he sees as changing for political benefit.
“A lot of people question whether she changed her opinion out of convenience because she’s in a deeply Republican district or whether that’s her heart-felt opinion,” he said.
Poll greeters are allowed to vote for whoever they would like to, but are assigned to the polling place by the presidential campaign which they are affiliated with.
All three poll greeters said they expected to see a larger turn-out this year for both sides.
“If you don’t like Trump, you really don’t like Trump. And if you love him, then you really love him. He’s a big driver for political turn-out for both sides,” a first-time poll greeter, 36, said.
Still, the Republican poll greeters said they believed the Republican primary would not be competitive this year.
“There’s not a lot of competition in the Republican primary, so I think it’s mostly the Democrats this year.” a TCU alumna, 27, who has 7 years of experience as a poll greeter, said.
Reporting by JD Pells
3:30 p.m.: Congregation Ahavath Sholom experiences “growing pains” with new voting machines
There were technical difficulties with voting machines at the Ahavath Sholom polling station.
Karen Silverberg, an election judge who chairs precinct 4130 for Democrats, said that having two separate voting lines for each political party is “more for show than for real.”
Silverberg said that having separate lines also caused some logistical problems.
“To some extent I think it’s making things slower, because while both party chairs agreed to this, as a practical matter it meant that assigning voting equipment was based on past history,” she said. “But we had no party past history for vote centers, as opposed to individual precincts, so it has created an imbalance of equipment.”
Kal Silverberg, the election judge who chairs precinct 4130 for Republicans, and husband to Karen Silverberg, said that they made the ratio of Republican to Democratic voting machines a little more even.
“It started off with 24 Republican and nine Democrat,” he said. “It is now 18 Republican and 12 Democrat.”
He said that there were “a few growing pains” with some of the new machines.
“We’ve had a few problems with the piece that prints out the ballot for it to be scanned and the votes counted,” he said. “But we’ve got 30 out of 33 still up and running.”
He added that more people were voting in the Democratic primary than the Republican primary, a “highly unusual” trend for the precinct.
“It has not occurred in the 16 years I’ve been election judge here,” he said.
He doesn’t believe that the change in allowing Tarrant County voters to vote at any polling station contributed to this irregularity, however.
“I do not think that has had any impact whatsoever; I’m still mostly seeing the regular voters we see here on Primary day,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of the Democratic presidential election being the hotter election right now.”
Reporting by Alexandra Lang
2:30 p.m.: Some Paschal voters focus on fairness, social issues
Voters talked about civic pride and a variety of issues when asked why they voted at Paschal High School today.
Sue Ott said she saw it as her duty to vote and is looking for a nominee that will prioritize fairness.
“I look for a nominee that is fair, will address climate change, as well as social issues,” she said.
Frank Valadez, a CRES major and member of the ROTC at TCU, had similar views to Ott’s.
“For me, the universal healthcare, minimum wage and anti-racism [impacted my decisions],” Valadez said. “So I voted for Bernie Sanders.”
A voter who wished to remain anonymous looks for nominees with key issues surrounding inclusion and humanity.
“If I were a candidate, the most important thing I would focus on is the border crisis,” the anonymous voter said.
Reporting by Daichi Ito
2:00 p.m.: Voters at Tanglewood speak about what they want in presidential candidate
Voters on both sides of the aisle spoke about who they voted for and why they did so at the Tanglewood Elementary polling site.
Republican voter Sandra Barnes did not vote for President Trump and said she is looking for a president with a global view that thinks about others and not themselves.
“I’m looking for leadership, someone that can run the country with confidence and that will put our country first and foremost in the world with the economy and in being the greatest power in the world,” said Republican and Trump voter Mark Neyland.
Democratic voter James Robert Garza, 54, said he voted for Sen. Elizabeth Warren because she has “concrete ideas to help with the struggles of middle-class families,” and is aware that there is an “imbalance within our society.”
Although reluctant to talk at first, Republican voter John McInnis, 69, wants a president that is honest and trustworthy with good morals.
He said he hopes President Trump will continue to build the wall along the U.S. – Mexico border.
One of the younger voters at Tanglewood was 24-year-old Sydne Goldstein from Sugarland, Texas. She said she is looking for a candidate who will “bring respect and dignity back to the White House.”
She decided to support former Vice President Joe Biden after her first choice, Pete Buttigeg, dropped out on Sunday.
Reporting by Alexandra Preusser and Layna Steward
1:30 p.m.: Voters unhappy with process
Some voters at Tanglewood Elementary School complained about the difference in the number of machines per party, which they say caused longer lines for Democrats.
There were three Democratic stations and five Republican stations at the site.
Democratic voter Mary Martinez said that she will be filing a complaint form.
“There were open booths for the Republicans,” she said. “There were way more Democrats in the Democratic line.”
Those voting on the Rebuplican side said their experience went smoothly.
“My particular way of voting wasn’t going to be crowded,” Republican voter Karen Paul said. “It was nice and fast.”
Reporting by Riane Cleveland
1:00 p.m.: Long lines at Southside Community Center
Voters at the Southside Community Center experienced lines and delays in voting this morning.
Twenty five voters were turned away when the station opened at seven this morning because the center’s internet was not working.
Cynthia McGee, a Fort Worth resident who works with the constable and was welcoming voters to the site, said the internet should have been taken care of yesterday.
She said anything that had to do with any voting today should have been taken care of before election day because “it is essential that we vote.”
Despite the voters being turned away, McGee said that the site being “super crowded” was a good thing because it meant that citizens were exercising their right to vote.
Travis Jones, a 55 year old Tarrant County resident, also discussed the importance of voting,
“You don’t say anything if you don’t vote.” he said.
Jones waited to cast a ballot for his preferred candidate despite the long wait.
Sylveria Perez, 45, was voting for the first time.
“I’m embarrassed to say that, but we need change,” she said.
Perez said she felt inspired to vote because she wanted a president she felt like she could stand behind.
“Leadership to me is not making us look silly in regards to comments. It feels like a joke now and we need someone serious.”
Reporting by Reagan Eyler
12:30 p.m.: Paschal receives permission to switch machines to assist with lines
Paschal High School had 12 voting machines allocated for the Republican party, but high turnout by Democratic voters has prompted a change.
Democratic election judge Kris Savage said that the Democratic machines were seeing close to double the voters as the Republican one.
Savage emailed Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia and got permission to use the other 6 machines that the Republican polling station was not using for Democratic voters.
Reporting by Emma Blum
12:00 p.m.: Machine separation causes long lines for some
The decision by Tarrant County Democratic and Republican officials to only have one party’s ballot on each voting machine has created lines at some polling sites across the county.
While voters can vote at any site in the county, they are being separated into lines based on party once they arrive to vote.
Steve Lamb, 64, said the voting site at Paschal High School was set up differently than in past elections.
“This is the first time I encountered this, where they have two tables in there and they said that the table on the right is Democrat and the table on the left is Republican,” he said. “You have to make a decision when you go in there and everyone in the room knows what you are doing.”
Lamb said that in previous election years the voting sites had not been set up like that.
The Tarrant County Elections Department said on Twitter that the parties were offered to share the equipment but chose not to.
Officials allocated 1,015 machines for Democratic ballots and 1,767 for Republicans.
Some sites have an equal number of machines for Democrats and Republicans, while others do not.
A number of voters have taken to Twitter to express their discontent with the system.
Reporting by Shannon Murphy and Benton McDonald
10:30 a.m.: Weather Outlook
10:00 a.m.: Technical difficulties
Heavy traffic caused Texas’ online polling place locater to crash almost immediately after voting began this morning.
The Texas Secretary of State’s office Tweeted that their elections and IT officers were working to get the site back online.
Please note that the https://t.co/EkVrGFcLY2 TEAM MVP page is expecting *heavy* web traffic, which is why it is down. Our Elections and IT staff are working diligently to troubleshoot and free up bandwidth to restore it to full function. #txsos
— Stephen Chang (@SChang_MH) March 3, 2020
While some were unable to see where to vote, others reported being directed to polling places that are no longer operating.
Not good! We showed up at the @SMU location listed on the @DallasElections website as our official polling place. No one was there. It turns out our precinct votes at the Highland Park Middle School. How many other precinct locations are wrong on that website?
— Joshua C. Tate (@JCTate1215) March 3, 2020
Tarrant County received a designation from the state in 2019 to use the Countywide Polling Place Program, which allows voters to vote at any polling site they chose on election day.
Just 72 of the states 254 counties have this designation.
Tarrant County residents can find a full list of voting sites along with an election day map here.