Texas State students voting early at the Performing Arts Center reported a simple and fast voting experience throughout the first week of early voting.
As of Oct. 19, according to a station worker, the PAC polling location reports 3,012 voter check-ins. According to the Hays County current elections website, 41,065 people have checked into in-person voting locations across the county as of Oct. 19. This is an increase in voters compared to the seventh day of early voting in 2018, which saw 32,781 total in-person voters.
Early voters at the PAC are given disposable styluses for a fully hands-off voting experience and are monitored for social distancing guidelines. Lauren McEwan, a reception supervisor for the Student Health Center, is volunteering at the PAC to help enforce 6 feet of social distancing at the polling location and limit the number of people entering at the same time.
She says she has not seen a line of more than three or four people during her volunteer time but reported station workers seeing long lines at opening hours.
“Both [volunteering] and whenever I personally went [to vote], everybody's just really happy that the turnout is so high this year and hopefully keeps up,” McEwan said.
Several students reported limited lines and a fast voting experience, including criminal justice senior Celeste Munoz, criminal justice sophomore Analisa Blount, public administration sophomore Juliette Cortes, biology freshman Vanessa Ombiri and criminal justice sophomore Matthew Avila.
Avila says he voted early in the primaries to avoid crowds. He says besides COVID-19 safety protocols, there are not any changes to the system, which he considers effective.
“There weren't a lot of people last time, more this time. So I just walked in, did the stuff and got right out. Probably less than 10 minutes, less than five,” Avila said.
Matthew Stehle, a wildlife ecology graduate student, also voted early to avoid crowds. He added that this year he specifically voted early and in-person out of distrust for the mail-in voting system.
“I think that people should vote right now,” Stehle said. “It's like the most important thing that you can do to contribute, especially in times like these.”
Luis Sanchez, a political science graduate student, says he voted early for the first time this cycle after voting on Election Day for the first time in the 2018 senate race. He cites procrastination as the reason for voting last minute in 2018.
“I just want to get my voice heard, honestly. If I wouldn't [vote early] now, I probably wouldn't have done it. Probably would have done it last minute. Best to do it now than later,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez says he did not previously vote in the 2016 election because he was “too lazy,” but regrets the decision and, as a first-generation student, says he feels like casting his ballot gives him a personal stake in making his voice heard.
“I can use the excuse that I didn’t like the two [presidential] options, but that's just an excuse. I should have voted. I could have still put my voice out there, but I didn't. And I'm pretty sure a lot of people didn't either,” Sanchez said.
Early voting ends Oct. 30. Estimated wait times for early voting locations can be viewed live on the elections website. For a detailed guide to the 2020 election including COVID-19 safety, mail-in ballots and sample ballots, visit The University Star's voter guide.