Houston man recounts 5-hour effort to cast vote
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on Tuesday’s primary election in Texas (all times local):
A Houston radiology technician says he voted only after giving up on long lines in majority African-American areas and heading to a precinct in a predominantly white and Latino neighborhood.
Ahmed King said Tuesday that after failing to find his normal polling place open, he went to a second location that was also closed. He eventually tried to cast his Democratic primary vote at Texas Southern University and a church, but the lines at those predominately African-American locations exceeded an hour and he didn’t have the patience so he left.
The 46-year-old King said he later found out from a friend that the line was short at school in predominately white and Latino neighborhood 15 miles away, so he drove there, saying at least he could sit in his air-conditioned car and listen to music instead of standing. He said he was able to cast his vote there with no wait.
King says, “I first tried to vote at 1 p.m. Central time and finally got done at 6:05. I have never had an experience like this before.”
Other voters across Houston and Harris County have reported long wait times. Harris County’s elections supervisor Michael Winn blamed Republicans’ refusal to allow the sharing of voting equipment. But Mary Moreno, a spokeswoman for the Texas Organizing Project, said the county and the state needed to better prepare.
The polls are closed in Tuesday’s primary election in all but the far west of Texas as reports emerge of long lines and frustrated voters in some cities.
Anyone in line at 7 p.m. CST is still allowed to vote. But with strong interest in Texas’ Democratic presidential primary, voters at several polling sites have reported delays of an hour or more.
In Harris County, home to Houston, elections supervisor Michael Winn blamed Republicans’ refusal to allow for the sharing of voting equipment. Instead, many polling sites have had much longer lines for the Democratic primary than the Republican primary, in which President Donald Trump and Sen. John Cornyn are expected to win easily.
El Paso and other areas in the Mountain Time Zone are still open for another hour.
The supervisor of elections in Harris County, which encompasses Houston, blames long lines at some polling locations on having to treat both parties the same even though only one has a contested presidential primary.
Michael Winn said Tuesday that he tried to have a shared primary where voters no matter their party would have used the same equipment to cast their ballots, but Republicans refused.
Winn said if he had tried to give Democrats more machines, the Republicans “would have cried all the way to Washington, D.C., to complain about disenfranchisement.”
The Texas Organizing Project said earlier Tuesday that some voters in majority African-American and Latino neighborhoods are going location to location to vote. The advocacy group alleges some people have given up altogether. Spokeswoman Mary Moreno says it’s disheartening that “Texas has some of the lowest voting rates and we are making it harder for people.”
Winn said residents are voting in the Democratic primary at a 2-to-1 margin compared to Republicans.
Voters in line when polls close in Harris County at 7 p.m. can cast a ballot.
The Republican chairman of a county in South Texas says online claims that GOP voters can’t cast ballots Tuesday are caused by confusion about how the primary election works.
Ross Barrera is the interim party chairman in Starr County, located in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. He responded to claims online that Republicans were being turned away Tuesday.
Starr County’s Republican Party has no candidates running for local office and can only afford to operate one local polling location, while Democrats have several locations oped for voting today.
Barrera said many voters want to vote for both President Donald Trump and a well-known Democratic candidate for local sheriff. He says he’s explained that they need to take a Democratic ballot to vote for the sheriff.
According to Barrera, as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, only 62 Republican ballots had been cast in the primary. Roughly 2,700 people in the county voted for Trump in 2016.
The Texas Secretary of State’s Office received reports that voters were receiving robocalls stating election misinformation related to Tuesday’s primary.
Spokesman Stephen Chang says the calls were telling voters that Republicans would vote on Tuesday while Democrats and independents would vote on Wednesday.
The secretary of state’s office has the number the calls were made from and has reported the calls to federal authorities.
It’s unclear who is responsible for the calls, which were made across the state.
Kathryn Cavanaugh cast her vote in Dallas in the Democratic primary for Bernie Sanders, saying she thinks he’s the candidate that can rally voters.
Thirty-year-old Cavanaugh is among voters in Texas choosing from a field of Democratic presidential candidates on Super Tuesday. She says, “I think that someone who is very firm in what they stand for is going to do well, especially in this upcoming election.”
In Houston, 28-year-old Racchel Cabrera agreed, saying she thinks Sanders, a Vermont senator, has the best chance to defeat Republican President Donald Trump in November. She said she voted for Sanders based on his “consistency and lifelong activism for equality.”
But Democrat Daniel Navarro in Dallas decided to cast his vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. The 40-year-old said he wants someone who can work across party lines, and added he thinks Sanders’ ideas “are too out there.”
Meanwhile Democrat Sally Climber, who is 39, said that while she thinks the majority of Texas Democrats would go for a centrist candidate, her views are further to the left, so she voted for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Voting got off to a slow start in Travis County on Tuesday because many election workers did not show up.
The Travis County Clerk’s Office says multiple election judges and poll workers were no-shows for Tuesday’s primary election. The office says some workers cited fears of coronavirus as a reason for not showing up Tuesday.
The election office says it began implementing emergency procedures, with elections staff and others employees filling in as poll workers.
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