In the sprawling suburbs north of Dallas, voters and election officials had reason to be on edge as the polls opened Tuesday morning. A surge in early voting had officials predicting record-high turnout. Confusion over Texas’ Voter ID law, struck down by a court in July, had tripped up some poll workers during early voting, raising alarm among civil rights groups. And across the suburban landscape – a fast-growing area where demographic shifts are threatening longtime Republican strongholds – operatives and activists had complained during early voting of polling-place mishaps and voter intimidation, including vote-changing election machines and a Trump sign affixed with a box-cutter.
Under a persistent drizzle, the first few hours of voting here appeared to relieve that building tension. Voters breezed in and out of several polling places on their way to work, gushing about the efficiency of the election workers. The machines held up; so did their IDs. One voter said poll workers had briefly been confounded by a different address on his ID, but they worked together and got it done:
“I’m not a quitter!” he yelled, ducking into the rain and jogging to his car. Plano police officers, dispatched to polling places, found nothing to do but check the credentials of a loitering Post reporter.
Voters said they hoped the cheeriness and ease continued into the next presidential era. The campaign – every campaign, but this one especially – dragged our fears and differences into the spotlight, several voters said, especially around race. “It brought the subject to the table and forced us to talk about,” said Albert Vega, 48, who emigrated from Monterrey, Mexico, to Texas as a teenager. “If anything good can come out of it, it’s given us an opportunity to speak.”
But Vega and other voters said that at least in this swath of suburban Dallas – in the dense and diverse neighborhoods where they live and work – things didn’t feel especially different. “We all want to live in peace,” he said, walking out of a bustling community college here.
A couple miles away, a Pakistani immigrant, who asked not to be identified, told a similar story. She’d driven in her minivan to her neighborhood’s Islamic community center, which happened to double as her polling place. “We just want peace,” she said. Asked about the effects of Trump’s candidacy – and a potential Trump presidency – on her neighborhood and the local Muslim community, she stiffened and said it made no difference, for better or worse. “We just wanted to be treated fairly, no matter what we worship.”
She didn’t want to say for whom she cast her ballot. Still, she was giddy about having cast it. With her 5-year-old, Texas-native son in tow, she described how she’d walked into the mosque’s near-empty gym, clad in an ornate tunic and hijab, and handed her ID to the elderly white poll workers. When she told them it was her first time voting, she said, they burst into applause and cheers.