Voters are seeking as little human contact as possible for this risky election. But there’s a low-contact method that’s getting less publicity than mail-in ballots — curbside voting.
Right after early voting started in Dallas, the line in front of Fretz Park Library stretched hundreds of yards. Mask-wearing voters stood patiently waiting their turn.
But not everyone is able to stand. A car pulled up at a sign that reads “curbside voting.” Lisa Jackson was inside.
“This is my first time being out since surgery,” Jackson said, “so I mean I’ve just been inside, because you can’t put a lot of weight on your knee, and so today’s the first day I’ve ever been out. But this is very important to me.”
It’s important because Jackson said she always votes and wasn’t going to let a bad knee stop her. She said she vaguely knew about curbside voting but wasn’t sure if she qualified. She hoped to avoid Plan B, taking the bus.
“At this point, I feel like I didn’t have anything to lose,” Jackson said. “They can only say ‘No,’ and I can just go, you know, to Plan B. So I’m very glad this is offered. It’s very helpful.”
Texas has allowed curbside voting for decades, for anyone physically unable to enter a polling place. Voters ask for help when they get to a polling location, and an election officer will bring a ballot to the car.
On that sunny, cool morning, Victor Davis was that election officer. He’s in a wheelchair.
“We do anybody curbside. Handicapped, disabled or older person,” Davis said. “If they pull up and want to vote curbside, we just come out and vote them curbside, no matter what’s going on.”
You do not have to prove your disability, according to the state.
One of Davis’s colleagues carried the electronic voting box to Lisa Jackson. From the back seat, she showed her driver’s license and voter registration card.
The official tried to wrangle the black and white portable touchscreen device through the car window, but that didn’t work. So Jackson opened the door, set the machine on her lap and made her choices.
Davis said Jackson would not be his only curbside voter.
“We’re set up to do curbside, we’re promoting curbside,” Davis said. “So if you can’t get out, come up, let us know, we’ll send some people out to vote you. It’s a constant.”
Some curbside voters can’t drive themselves. Yair Brama is a volunteer with the organization RideShare2vote that offers free round trips to the polling place. He drove Jackson to vote.
“Voting is the most powerful thing we have as a society, and we need to vote and we need to help people vote,” Brama said. “I believe that voting is important, no matter who you vote for. Voting is for everyone.”
With a little help from Brama and the election official, Lisa Jackson was able to satisfy her civic duty. The portable machine produces her ballot, and Davis takes it to the ballot box inside the polling place.
“Now we take this in, and process this up,” Davis said of the ballot. “It’s a done deal.”
Just as Davis finished helping Lisa Jackson, another car arrived with a voter ready to cast their ballot curbside.
Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.