The runoff election to determine the ultimate winners of the Republican and Democratic party primary races held on March 3 was originally scheduled for May, but the coronavirus pandemic intervened, and the governor postponed the runoff to July 14, according to Moore County Clerk Brenda McKanna. Voters will be determining who the party candidates will be in races such as Moore County Tax Assessor/Collector, 13th Congressional District Representative, United States Senate, and others in the upcoming November general election. In some races where there were no candidates in the primary of the opposing party, voters in the runoff will be choosing who takes office. Because there was no candidate in the Democratic primary for Moore County Tax Assessor/Collector, the winner of the runoff between Kevin Smith and Chris Rivera from the Republican Primary will win the general election by default and take over from the retiring Nikki McDonald next January.
Voting by mail for the runoff election has already begun. Though the time period for voting by mail has been extended, the requirements for who is eligible has remained the same in Texas, despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis, litigation, and calls by some to make voting by mail more widely available, something that, so far, the governor and other state officials have resisted.
As of now, the only people eligible to vote by mail are those over 65 years of age, the disabled, people incarcerated but otherwise eligible to vote, and those who will be away from the county on election day and during the period of in-person early voting. The Texas Supreme Court recently upheld Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's interpretation of Texas voting law that the risk of contracting the coronavirus does not make someone eligible.
The last day to apply for a ballot by mail is Thursday, July 2. Those wishing to request an application should call the County Clerk at 935-2009.
As was the case with the primary elections in March, voters in July are allowed to vote in either the Republican or the Democratic party runoff. They are not allowed to vote in both, nor are they allowed to switch parties for the runoff, if they voted in the regular primary in March.
When applying, voters must give the reason why they believe they are eligible to vote by mail. Once a voter receives an application, he or she must submit it by mail, common or contract carrier, fax, or email to the Early Voting Clerk of the county in which he or she is registered to vote. In Moore County, that is Brenda McKanna, 715 Dumas Avenue, Room 107, Dumas, Texas 79029. The email address for submissions is firstname.lastname@example.org. The fax number is 806-935-9004. If a voter submits an application by fax or email, he or she must follow up and send the original application via regular mail within 4 business days of the submission.
In-person early voting kicks off June 29 and lasts through July 10. McKanna says all precincts in Dumas (101, 201, 202, 203, and 301) will be consolidated in the 1st Street Annex at 310 East 1st Street in Dumas from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Thursday and 8:00 am to 12:30 pm on Friday. Voters in the two Sunray precincts (401 and 402) will need to go to the Sunray City Hall at 405 Main Street in Sunray to cast their ballot. Regular, in-person voting on election day, July 14, will also be consolidated.
The City of Cactus, City of Sunray, and the Sunray Independent School District were supposed to conduct elections in May, but those were cancelled and will now take place as part of the general election on November 5, according to McKanna.
The timing of the runoff is not the only thing being affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). Many people have expressed concern about being able to cast a ballot without exposing themselves to a virus that has, so far, killed 13 Moore County residents and infected many more. McKanna says that she and her staff are making plans to make the process of in-person voting, both early and on election day, as safe as possible for both voters and for election workers. She says voting machines will be six feet apart and sanitized between voters. People will not have to touch anything that has been touched by someone else, workers will wear masks, and there will be a sneeze guard on the table where people check in. She says she is still working out the details of getting people in and out of the building without getting close to one another, and she says she intends to construct additional barriers to minimize the possibility of someone contracting the virus. This election day will not be like anything voters in Moore County have ever seen before.