A small ballot and a pandemic added up to low turnout for the first day of early voting in Gregg County.

Election Administrator Kathryn Nealy said 68 people voted in the first day of the primary runoff early voting.

“Gregg County does not have any local races, and we realize that’s why there has not been a lot of interest,” she said. “But everybody is involved in the Democrat state railroad commissioner and United States senator, so that’s a very important office. We need our voters to be aware that is a reason to get out and vote.”

The Democratic candidates for senator are Royce West and Mary “MJ” Hegar. The winner of the runoff will face Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn in November.

The Democratic railroad commissioner candidates are Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo and Chrysta Castañeda. The runoff winner will face Republican candidate James Wright in November.

Voters also are not used to voting in July, but COVID-19 pushed the election back from its previously scheduled date in May, Nealy said.

But voters should not worry about safely visiting the polls, she said.

“We have many precautions in place. We have gloves, masks, hand sanitizer for the voters. Our workers are wearing gloves and masks. We have those plexiglass screens between votes and workers,” Nealy said. “We have signs and tape marking 6 feet between voters.”

Workers also use disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces after voters come in, she said.

“We have been communicating with the secretary of state for three months now to secure these products and get them in place and have a plan for how to protect our voters,” she said.

Voters can cast their ballots at five locations:

  • 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 5 and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. July 6-10 at the Gregg County Courthouse
  • 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 5 and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. July 6-10 at the Judson Community Center
  • 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 5 and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. July 6-10 at the Greggton Community Center
  • 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 5 and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. July 6-10 at the Kilgore Community Center
  • 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 5 and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. July 6-10 at the Broughton Recreation Center