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Super Tuesday Voting in Dallas County Wasn’t Without Hiccups

Dallasites on Tuesday found long lines, malfunctioning machines, missing poll workers, and, surprisingly, a lot of patient voters.
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Voters lined up to vote on Super Tuesday at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas. (Photo by Cecilia Lenzen)

Overcast skies loomed over Dallas on Super Tuesday as thousands of voters from across the city flocked to the polls to cast their ballots in Texas’ primary elections.

Dallas County offered 14 voting precincts and 243 cumulative voting locations. Before Super Tuesday, 1,085,065 Texan Republicans and 1,000,231 Democrats had taken advantage of early voting. But the big day started with some hiccups.

By 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, 383 voters had cast their ballots at North Dallas High School in Uptown. The location got off to a slow start because of technical difficulties.

Election Judge Bill Barnes said the election volunteers weren’t given the usernames and passwords to login in to the computers and pull up the voting pages. Later in the day, two express voting machines malfunctioned. Another failed mechanically. All three machines were fully functioning by noon. Voters reported similar problems across town at the Lochwood branch library, where none of the machines were running at 7 a.m. The voting machines are a hybrid of a digital and analogue, with voters electronically voting but receiving their ballots on a sheet of paper with a unique bar code. The voter gets a receipt and turns in the ballot to another machine. Other issues weren’t even technical. The Dallas Morning News reported some poll workers just didn’t show up to their locations to run the machines.

But it seemed most of the problems were solved by the afternoon. Dallas resident Danny Tipton said he only waited about 10 minutes in line at North Dallas High, and most of the voters around him seemed content with the wait.

“The guy in front of me was getting a little impatient, but honestly it wasn’t bad,” he said.

All the machines except the printer were working by the time he arrived, Tipton said as he waited for his wife to cast her vote. Unfortunately, that meant he didn’t get his receipt, but he shrugged it off as not much of a concern. Some voters worry if their ballot went through correctly without the receipt confirmation, but he said the most important thing is that he fulfilled his civic duty.

Meanwhile, the George Allen Courts Building saw a fairly normal Super Tuesday turnout, said Election Judge Pamela Curry. During the first hour, about 80 people voted, and by 10:30 a.m., that number had jumped to 255.

Curry said she’s presided at the George Allen Courts Building since 2012, and this Tuesday matched the pace of previous Super Tuesdays at the location: smooth and steady.

A 15-minute walk down the road, the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library painted a similar picture. By 11:30 a.m., 248 people had cast their ballots at the polling location.

One of those voters was Dallas resident Dennis Newton, who used his lunch break from work to walk downtown to the voting location. By lunchtime, the lines had picked up to assemble a sizable gathering. Even with the crowd, Newton said he only had to wait about 10 minutes to get to a poll, and most people seemed in good spirits, chatting with other voters in line.

“It was busy,” Newton said. “But it was good to see a crowd.”

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