Texas voters turn out under sunny skies as pandemic and political divisions loom large over Election Day

Voters stand in line at the American Airlines Center to cast their ballots on Election Day in Dallas. (Credit: Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune)
Voters stand in line at the American Airlines Center to cast their ballots on Election Day in Dallas. (Credit: Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune)

(TEXAS TRIBUNE)This coverage is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. The article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

Clear skies across Texas ushered voters to the polls for a historic Election Day on Tuesday, even as a political storm hovers at the close of an anxious, divisive presidential election unlike any other.

Masked up against a pandemic and determined to be a part of the record-breaking turnout in Texas and across the nation, they lined up before dawn at schools and shopping malls and gigantic brand-new voting centers.

“My big takeaway from this morning is that the sun is shining in Texas and people are voting,” said Mimi Marziani, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, after citing high turnout numbers in big counties like Harris and Fort Bend. “At this point in the day the big story is celebrating the fact that Texas has squarely moved from being a state where so many folks were sitting on the sideline to being a voting state.”

As the national conversation around potential Election Day problems and unrest continued to grow in the days leading up to Tuesday, the push for early voting as a failsafe against problems drove record-breaking numbers to the polls before the day even began.

But although some 57.3% of registered Texas voters have already cast their in-person and absentee ballots with an extra week added during early voting, many still waited until Tuesday to take part in what many voters called the most important election of their lifetimes.

“In my family, everybody has different opinions, and I really wanted to read more about [the issues],” said Lizbeth Lopez, 38, a home health agency owner voting Tuesday in El Paso. “I did change my mind, so it was good that I wanted to make sure that I finished my research.”

Big turnout