SEU students share early voting experiences, tips for first-time voters


Juan Diaz

Early voting looked a little different this election season. To promote safety, voters must wear masks, social distance and are given a finger cover or stylist at the polls.

Voters swarmed the polls during the first week of early voting, which lasts from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30. As the early voting period goes on, people are waiting in line for long periods of time.

St. Edward’s student Jason Freed, voted early at Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center in East Austin.

“I arrived at my usual polling spot on the first day [of early voting] at 7:10 a.m. to find the street lined with cars and a line of people from the front door all the way to the street,” the long-time voter said. “During previous elections, at most, there have only been a few people in line when I’ve gone to vote.”

With COVID-19 precautions such as social distancing being implemented at the polls, the lines to vote seem longer than they have in previous years. However, with these protocols being administered, Freed felt more at ease when voting.  

“Everyone in line was wearing their mask and keeping a distance from one another,” Freed said. The process took him around 1.5 hours. “I definitely felt safe. Everyone was taking every precaution to make sure the voting process was safe.” Though voting looks slightly different this year, many St. Edward’s students are still excited to vote for the first time. Junior Stephen Lehren suggests some tips for first-time voters.

“[First-time voters] should know what’s on the ballot and should always double-check [their] info. Both are easy and can stop voter suppression and inclined state officials from stopping you from participating in the democracy,” Lehren says. 

Not knowing who is on the ballot can lead to confusion as there are many choices, and especially since voting straight-ticket isn’t an option this year. Freed’s advice is to start reading up on the candidates and propositions in order to be informed before heading to the polls.

“When you go to vote, check out the wait times online. The Austin Chronicle has some great endorsements if you are unsure of who you should vote for or want to learn more about Prop A and Prop B,” he says. 

Taking the time to understand what’s on the ballot is not only important but can also give you something to do as the lines die down. Matt Largey, podcasting professor at St. Edward’s, will be doing just that. 

“I do plan to vote early — probably somewhere in the middle of the voting period when the lines tend to get shorter. I usually end up procrastinating until the last day, but I promised myself I wouldn’t do that this time, because the lines are always super long on the last day of early voting,” Largey says. 

KVUE reported that over 35,000 people voted in Travis County on the first day. Whether you go early or late, get out there and vote!