Early voting starts Monday and Guadalupe County elections personnel have instituted measures to help make it a safer experience.

Primary runoff election day is July 14 but voters can cast ballots early starting Monday amidst protocols to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Guadalupe County Elections Administrator Lisa Hayes said.

“These health and safety protocols are new for us also,” she said. “I hope the voters will be patient with us and the poll workers as we implement the changes for everyone’s benefit.”

Her office will use a health checklist provided by the state to help in the voting process, Hayes said. Markings will help establish social distancing in waiting lines and while using voting machines, she said.

Hand sanitizer at check-in stations and disposable styluses will be available.

“It is recommended that masks be worn; however, voters will need to be prepared to pull down their masks briefly to be identified by the poll worker when checking in to vote,” Hayes said. “Voters not wearing masks will not be turned away but masks are strongly encouraged for the health and safety of both voters and poll workers.”

Voters also are encouraged to self screen for symptoms related to COVID-19 before heading to the polls, she said. For those wishing to vote in person but who are unable to enter the polling place, curbside voting is available, Hayes said.

For curbside voting, voters can call the elections office and ask to vote curbside or have someone enter the polling place and notify workers of a desire to use curbside voting, she said.

“We take a curbside voting unit out to the car for them and they vote out in their cars instead of coming into the polls,” Hayes said.

Proper identification will be necessary and those voting curbside will be screened by an elections worker to ensure they are eligible to cast a ballot, she said.

Curbside voting uses a touchscreen voting machine and provides no paper ballot for votes cast, Hayes said. Elections workers will make sure the curbside machines are sanitized between each use, she said.

“We will wipe them down,” Hayes said. “We have one for every voting location, early and election day. That’s historically what we have used. I believe we’ll be expanding that collection for November.”

Four polling places will be open for the early voting period, which runs June 29 - July 2 and July 5 - July 10.

Anyone 65 years of age or older or who has a disability can consider submitting an application to vote by mail if they feel uncomfortable visiting a polling place, Hayes said. If they fall ill after the deadline to submit an application for mail-in balloting, a voter should contact the elections office for more options, she said.

“Voters are encouraged to utilize the sample ballots available on the elections office website to familiarize themselves with the ballot and potentially reduce the time spent in the polling place,” Hayes said.

Guadalupe County voters have the choice between Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez and Ryan Krause, who are vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Representative District 15 seat. The winner will face incumbent Vincente Gonzales in the November General Election.

They will also decide between Lani Popp and Robert Morrow on the Republican ballot for nomination for the State Board of Education District 5 position.

On the Democratic ballot, voters have the choice between Mary “MJ” Hegar and Royce West for the nomination in the U.S. Senate race. The winner would face incumbent John Cornyn in the General Election. Also on the ballot are Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo and Chrysta Castaneda vying for the Democratic nod in the race for Railroad Commissioner.

Early voting locations are the Seguin elections office, the Schertz elections office, Grace Church on FM 725 in New Braunfels and the New Berlin City Hall.

Sample ballots, an early voting schedule and other related materials and information are available at the elections office website: https://www.co.guadalupe.tx.us/elections/index.php .

Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at dalondo.moultrie@seguingazette.com .

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