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Voters Are Turning Out Early Across Texas To Cast Ballots

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Throughout this morning on this historic Election Day, we are checking in with member station reporters around the country who have been at the polls, talking to voters as the polls open on this big day. And we're going to turn now to Texas. Reporter Kaysie Ellingson of Texas Tech Public Media in Lubbock is on the line with us.

Kaysie, good morning.

KAYSIE ELLINGSON, BYLINE: Hi. Happy to be here.

GREENE: Well, thanks for doing it. I understand Texas, I mean, has already blown out records for turnout in the early voting period. What kind of turnout are you actually seeing at the polls there today?

ELLINGSON: Yeah, absolutely. So today, I've been driving around since about 6 o'clock this morning. And I'm really not seeing a lot of turnout at the polls. I haven't really seen a whole lot of lines. There were some people waiting in cars. I'm kind of set up right now at the Patterson Library in East Lubbock - and yeah, not a lot of traffic coming through here. We did have over 56 or over 50% of our early voter turnout from registered voters, which was historic for us. And so yeah, it's going to be interesting to see how it turns out for the rest of today.

GREENE: Well, I know last week, NPR actually moved to Texas from the leaning-Republican column in the presidential race to toss-up. I mean, are you getting the sense in your reporting that the race is fairly close?

ELLINGSON: Yeah. Honestly, I have been. It's kind of a mixed bag here in Lubbock. So historically, Lubbock is way more conservative leaning. In 2016, I know that 66% of the county's votes went to President Trump, whereas 28% went to Hillary Clinton. In the weeks leading up to this election, we did see two pretty massive Trump rallies that attracted thousands of people. But on the other hand, the young voters that I'm talking to do not want to see Donald Trump win a second term.

One young voter who I talked with, Jillian Hodges (ph), she's actually a college student here. She's from El Paso. This was her first time voting. She told me that back in 2016, she actually was a Trump supporter. Her and her whole family, they were Trump supporters. And - although, she was not able to - she was not old enough to vote at that time. But four years later, she has had a lot of really negative experiences with Trump supporters being racist. And I have a short clip that I would like to share with you here from Jillian Hodges.

JILLIAN HODGES: It made me realize how racist, like, America is.

GREENE: Wow. But what else are you hearing from voters you've been talking to?

ELLINGSON: A lot of voters out here are really focused on - well, the young voters, I should say, they're really focused on issues related to LGBT rights, to climate change. They're really focused on that. They're worried about the economy. They're worried about COVID-19 response. And so that's a lot of stuff that I'm hearing out here. I know the economy is a big issue to a lot of voters out here. And so I think they're leaning towards whichever candidate is going to help lift the economy up outside of this COVID-19 depression.

GREENE: Well, listen. I've been telling this to all the reporters we've been talking to. We really appreciate you being out there covering this, covering an election as tough as it is but in the middle of a pandemic. It's a major challenge. Kaysie, thanks a lot.

ELLINGSON: Yeah, no problem. Thank you.

GREENE: That's reporter Kaysie Ellingson from Texas Tech Public Media in Lubbock, Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.