WACO, TX — Monday was the last day to register to voter for the July 14th runoff election, dominated by a big battle for a seat in Congress.
Smaller races will have their place too, but a many changes in this election will take place, "off the ballot."
Elections officials across Texas consider the July 14th runoff a sort of a “practice run” for the November presidential election.
Voters, they say, should look at it the same way.
Not only should we check the races we’ll vote on, we’ll also want to know about the many changes in voting brought on by COVID-19.
With the future of the country in the hands of voters this November, Jason Lentz wanted to make sure he registered to cast a ballot
"I moved here about 3 years ago, just haven't registered so I've always been a voter so I wanted to get my name in the hat," he said.
And thanks to good timing, Mr. Lenz will also get to vote in the July 14th runoff, which McLennan County Elections Chief Kathy Van Wolfe calls important.
"We need to get those people that didn't get on the ballot in March, on the November Ballot," she said.
In McLennan, Bell and Brazos counties you'll find a sprinkling of judge, county, state and other congressional races.
Brazos Democrats will have their choice of Royce West or Mary Hogar for U.S. Senate, and between David Jaramillo and Rick Kennedy for U.S. House of Representatives District 17.
Many Texas counties will also vote for a candidate running for Railroad Commission.
Brazos Republicans will choose from Michael Schaefer and Steve Aldrich for County Commission.
Bell County Democrats will choose between Hegar and West for U.S. Senate and between Christine Mann and Donna Imam for U.S. House District 31. They also have the Railroad Commission race.
Bell County Republicans will select a candidate for judge of the 426th District Court.
McLennan County Democrats, likewise, have the Hegar-West race, the Jaramillo-Kennedy race and Railroad Commission.
McLennan Republicans will also choose a candidate for judge of the 19th District Court and a Precinct One County Commission spot.
But the top of most ballots is a congressional runoff between a comeback candidate Pete Sessions and a political newcomer Renee Swann.
"It will take a person with experience to go get it done," said Sessions in March.
"I'm ready. I'm ready for tomorrow," said Swann.
But a tomorrow that included coronavirus?
It kept Van Wolfe and others up at night coming up with a plan that includes social distancing, mask and face guards for election workers, lots of sanitizer, along with pens and pencils we can keep.
"We're encouraging the voters to as well wear face masks when they come in to vote," she said laughing.
She hopes it turns out that easy, because in November, voting gets a little harder.
"We will still have in-person voting. I'm concerned more for November I guess than for this one because we do expect a large turn-out for that election, and because straight party is not gonna be on the ballot in November. It'll take the voters a little while longer for the voters to vote," said Van Wolfe.
Which is why Jason Lenz wanted a "dress rehearsal" before November's big show.
"I may go early, I haven't figured that out yet, but I'm definitely gonna vote," he explained.
So as our very first coronavirus election approaches not only will elections workers help protect the sanctity of our votes, they’ll also help protect our health.
We can also help by suiting up to cast our ballots.