by Oleg Burunov
More than 35 US states will offer early in-person voting from 5 to 30 days prior to the 3 November election amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Tens of thousands of people have already cast their ballots in Texas early voting, with the first day of the process seeing long wait times in some locations of the Lone Star State.
Twitter users shared photos and videos of massive queues during early voting across Texas on 13 October, noting that they “have never seen anything like this” and that the queues in some areas are “unbelievable”.
First day of early voting in Texas, 6:30 AM, about 100 people in line. I’ve never seen anything like this. pic.twitter.com/jHQvIIzQyN
— Ron DOV (@rez512) October 13, 2020
The footage showed many voters maintaining social distancing and wearing face coverings while waiting in line.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, for her part, said that the first three hours of voting saw at least 6,000 people cast a ballot and by noon, the total number already stood at 14,000.
The first day of early voting in Texas and this is the library in my neighborhood. This line is NEVER like this. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/mC9T3fbjsn
— He Can’t Steal Our Democracy if We Vote (@jphicks) October 13, 2020
— Diane Nanez (@dfnanez) October 13, 2020
First day of early voting in Austin, Texas. We’ll wait 4 hours in line for BBQ, what’s 3 hours to cast a vote? pic.twitter.com/xcbUO921H3
— Evelyn Fujimoto (@emarimoto) October 13, 2020
This is insane! Check out the line for the first day of early voting at one of Houston’s biggest early voting sites. It literally wraps around the block!! People were in line an hour before polls even opened at 7 am pic.twitter.com/o7nHh9jCAn
— Jeremy Wallace (@JeremySWallace) October 13, 2020
— Capt Quack Sparrow (@miraclemexican) October 13, 2020
Early voting kicks off in #Texas today.
If you plan on casting your ballot @ West Gray Multi-Service Center near downtown #Houston, heads up — there’s a line already, main parking lot is full, so voters are parking across the street. #khou11 #HTownRush #Election2020 pic.twitter.com/M0gJnE2Lri
— Michelle Choi (@MichelleKHOU) October 13, 2020
Early voting began this morning in Texas and one of our city council members said the wait is over an hour with lines around the building and out the door. I don’t ever remember them being so long … enthusiasm is through the roof. pic.twitter.com/22mz4ecvwC
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) October 13, 2020
She expressed hope that lines and wait times will shrink in the next few days, saying that the first day of voting tends to be the busiest.
“This is pretty normal behaviour, and I think by day two or three you will find that the lines are less daunting. There is such high enthusiasm out there. Voters are in a good mood and are taking care of each other by wearing masks and social distancing. Everyone is just having a good time. So get out and vote”, DeBeauvoir stressed.
She added that a number of technicians had been deployed across the county to tackle possible voting machine malfunctions, which prompted long queues at the Dittmar Recreation Centre in South Austin.
“Technical issues might happen at any point, and when they do happen it’s about when and how quickly can we get it resolved”, the Travis County clerk said.
The developments in Texas come after hours-long waiting lines emerged across Georgia on Monday as voters gathered around polling stations to take part in the first day of early voting in the state.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, US election officials have been urging Americans to cast their votes as early as possible, either through absentee voting or by going to the polls in person. More than 35 other states will offer in-person voting from roughly five to around 30 days ahead of the November 3 election.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that mail-in voting being used by most states amid the pandemic is rife for large-scale fraud, and may make the US “a laughing stock all over the world”.