DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — Usually, you head to Dallas’ American Airlines Center for a basketball or hockey game, or you’re hitting up a big concert. As of Tuesday morning, it is now the city’s largest mega voting center; however, voting Texans tell NewsNation that the stakes for this competition are much higher.
“I’m going to vote,” said Dallas resident Timothy Beauchamp. “I don’t care if I have to climb Mount Everest.”
By lunchtime, 25,000 Dallas County voters had shown up to cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election.
“You have to make your voice heard, you’re an American,” pleaded Dallas voter Christian Burns.
Early voting opened up for Texans at 7 a.m. Tuesday. In addition to choosing candidates, voters also elected how they wanted to vote with in-person, mail-in drop off, or curbside options.
Some first-time voters like Yia Medina led by the power of familial convictions to show up.
“My family is back in Puerto Rico, so I feel a deep sense of responsibility,” said Medina. “Not only am I voting for myself, but also my family back home on the island.”
After casting her ballot, Medina stayed to feed about 300 locals so they could wait in line to vote. The Dallas Mavericks opening the American Airlines Center to double as a polling location for early voting.
“They have everything socially distanced, you snake through right there,” said Dallas voter Joel Wood. “It’s actually really quick, I maybe waited 20 minutes total?”
Lines were a common sight in most Texas cities on Tuesday — from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley. In Austin, voters remained six feet apart in a field while they inched toward election officials.
“I hope we send a strong message by the number of people that show up today that Texans are serious about taking back our country,” said one Brownsville, Texas, voter.
Turnout is the big talker, especially in the time of COVID-19 with new health risks for Americans to take into account. Some, however, are still not confident in the mail-in ballot system.
“Well is it valid? Is it going to work?” asked Burns. “You know that’s part of the strategy — and so, at this point, I thought that coming in, showing myself face to face would be the best option for me.”
Despite the myriad of voting challenges and concerns 2020 has had to offer, voters say this election is too important to miss.
“Not only just on the presidential level but on the local level, that’s where you see a lot of change come from,” said Wood. “Equality, justice for all.”
At last check at 6 p.m. CST on Tuesday, just more than 50,000 Dallas residents had cast their vote.