Early voting starts with safety protocols to prevent voter intimidation

Democrats and Republicans, at campaign events Monday morning, pitched similar warnings. State Democrats met at their Party Headquarters in East Austin.

"Today we save democracy. It starts today and the stakes have never been higher," said State Senator Sarah Eckhardt who is running for re-election.

Preserving core values was also voiced at the Republican gathering in Bee Cave.

"This election, it's not just about the candidates on the ballot. It is about our kids," said Ellen Troxclair who is running for a state house seat.

State Rep Donna Howard noted how in her previous re-election bid, she won by only a few votes.

"The Democrats are here to say that we are going to work to protect our freedoms, provide justice, and ensure safety for all Texans. Elections matter," said the Austin Democrat.

Democrats pushed their main social agenda like restring abortion rights and removing what they claim are barriers to voting. The focus for Republicans is on entirely different issues.

"Now is the time we need to protect our border, our history and oil and gas against what the liberal left is going to do," said Land Commissioner Candidate Dawn Buckingham.

Voters can cast a ballot at any polling location in Travis County. That open door policy is also allowed in Williamson County. Election Officials urged voters to view on line sample ballots before getting in line.
"Voters should go to VoteTravis.com (and) go get a sample of their ballot. They can take notes and bring that with them. Redistricting was done earlier this year not everyone will see it but certain areas will. It's very important to reach out if there are any questions and we'll be happy to assist," said Travis Co Elections Clerk Rebecca Guerrero.

Voter intimidation is a concern this year.

"We want everybody not to go to the polling place in fear," said Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez.

Sheriff Hernandez told FOX 7 she is providing safety patrols around polling locations along with local police and constables. Federal officials also announced a program to respond to voter intimidation complaints.

"Well, if they feel threatened or harmed or endangered, those are important calls," said Hernandez.

The patrols are not for people who feel slighted or offended by someone from a rival party.

"Yeah, right. No, I think that the election staff can handle all of that, "said Hernandez.

Federal officials, last week, announced they will also be monitoring complaints of voter intimidation. Voter apathy is another concern. That’s why party leaders Monday asked for help with turn out.

"We got hundreds of people in this room today. If all of you contact hundreds of more people. We will turn out 20, 30, 40,000 people just among the people in this room," Governor Greg Abbott.

In Travis County, there are 38 polling locations. They are open from 7 am to 7 pm - Monday to Friday. Saturday the five mega-center locations will have extended hours from 12 to 6. You can find locations here.

"Don't think of Election Day as sometime in November. Think of it this afternoon. Tomorrow morning, the election is on now. And despite all of the efforts to suppress our vote, this is no excuses voting for the next two weeks," said Congressman Lloyd Doggett who is also running for re-election.

Early Voting ends Friday, November 4.