Voting issues in Tarrant County include long lines, paper ballots and electioneering

Some voters were waiting in line for several hours Tuesday night as voting wrapped up in Tarrant County.

At 8 p.m., about 40 people were still waiting in line to vote in Grand Prairie at Anna May Daulton Elementary School, a woman waiting in line said.

Cathie Figueroa said on Twitter she had already been in line for about two hours at the polling station.

Kelly Hanes, Tarrant County public information officer, said while it is not unusual for lines to remain after polls close, people who got into line before 7 p.m. will be able to vote.

Others in the county reported problems with paper ballots, long lines and electioneering.

At 7 a.m. at T.A. Howard Middle School, an election clerk reported to a line of 20 voters that they didn’t have paper ballots for their precinct, according to Tarrant County elections commissioner Heider Garcia.

Garcia told the Star-Telegram that the election judge wasn’t able to locate the paper ballots for one of the precincts and immediately called the election office for replacements. The office printed about 100 ballots and when an election official dropped them off at T.A. Howard, the original ballots were found.

However, during that time, some people who were in line to vote had left, according to reports.

Meanwhile, at Azle Avenue Baptist Church, Gerardo Contreras posted on Facebook that the polling place opened late, which could have discouraged many who were waiting in line to vote.

Carmen Castro, a canvasser, said she arrived shortly before 7 a.m., when the polling place should have opened, to set up yard signs and saw the line wasn’t moving.

Connie Contreras, an elementary schoolteacher in the Fort Worth School District and Gerardo’s sister, said she arrived at 7:20 a.m. and the line wasn’t moving at all. She said she texted Gerardo that this was going to make her late for work. She said she felt like leaving and he told her not to.

“I thought it was going to be easy,” Connie said. “I know the process is different in other places but it just seemed so disorganized.”

Garcia said that based on election records, one of the booths for paper ballots hadn’t been set up at the site but that the issue was resolved by 7:20 a.m.

Some voters at the site reported that only one electronic voting machine was available and that the rest of the voting stations were for paper ballots. However, according to the Tarrant County Elections Office, the electronic machine was only for voters with special needs. The others were for voters casting paper ballots.

Others complained about electioneering. In Aledo, election workers complained of a mock jail display by former County Commissioner Jim Webster, who was towing a jail on a trailer behind his pickup with Democratic “inmates” Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama inside. It included Ted Cruz campaign signs and the words “Deep State Demon Rats.”

Webster had been driving it around Weatherford on Saturday and Sunday and parked it near the Aledo Community Center voting site off-and-on Tuesday.

Election worker Sharon Wayland said election officials called the Aledo Police Department, but nothing was done.

“It just seems to be highly unethical to be parking something that offensive right outside a polling place,” she said.

The Texas Election Code bars electioneering within 100 feet of polling places during an election.

Two volunteers at the Christ United Methodist Church polling center in Fort Worth said they had not had many issues.

Volunteer Johnna Cunningham said a few people showed up who were at the wrong polling station, but they were quickly pointed in the right direction.

Irene Ellison said they had seen a lot of young voters as well as a few older voters who were casting a ballot for the first time. Long-time volunteers said it was the busiest they had ever seen the polling station.

“People want their voice heard,” Ellison said.

Nationwide, readers searched Google for various election-related issues as they headed to the polls. In North Texas, people searched about voter intimidation in Irving, Carollton, Grand Prairie and Dallas while others searched about long wait times in Grapevine and Mansfield. Provisional ballots was also a trending search topic in North Richland Hills and Keller.

See how people are searching for issues, such as provisional ballots, in our area through the latest Google search trends:

The Star-Telegram has joined ProPublica’s Electionland project to track and monitor voting problems nationwide. If you experience any problems on Election Day in Tarrant County that stop you from voting or make it difficult, share your experience with us by text message, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. For more information about Electionland, visit www.election.land.

Hanaa’ Tameez, 817-390-7991, @HTameez
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