WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Tuesday was supposed to be the day for primary election runoffs. Due to COVID-19, Governor Abbott postponed the election to July 14 with early voting starting on June 29.
During Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting, commissioners were informed about one location that will no longer host voters for this election.
Home Depot officials told Wichita County Clerk Lori Bohannon that because voters would be counted with the capacity that they can have in the store, they won’t be a polling location for this election. But Bohannon is sure that all county buildings will be prepared to host voters safely.
As Governor Abbott continues to open the state of Texas, Wichita County is preparing for next month’s runoff election. And they may have to do so without two of their biggest polling sites.
“Home Depot and the mall are usually our busiest locations and I understand them not allowing us in there because it cuts down on the number of people that they can have actually in their businesses to shop,” Bohannon said.
Bohannon is still waiting to hear from Sikes Senter Mall. If they also refuse to be a polling site, he is sure that county sites will be able to host voters safely.
“We have bought extra stylus. A new one will be given to the next person in line and then they’ll be cleaned,” Bohannon said. “We’re gonna have the sneeze guards up. They will clean the machines after every person.”
Voting should be as simple as it usually is for voters even with these new safety measures. But Bohannon and county commissioners discussed the possibility of having to accept only mail-in ballots if the state government were to make that order.
“That changes the dynamics of the equipment we have, the processes we have, everything,” Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said. “It’s amazing. And we can’t wait until much longer to order the additional equipment we would need. If they don’t decide something soon it’s really gonna be a cumbersome process to try to deal with.”
If that day comes, the county will have some tough decisions to make. But for right now, voters can anticipate going to their closest county voting site once the polls are open.
In consultation with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Secretary of State’s Office released guidance on recommended health protocols for Texas election officials and voters in response to COVID-19.
This guidance reflects the minimum recommended health protocols to help ensure the health and safety of all voters, election office personnel, polling place workers, and poll watchers in Texas.
These recommendations are not a limit on the health protocols that individuals may adopt, and individuals are encouraged to adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all Texans.
The full guideline is below.