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Texas Latinos Say They Prefer To Vote In Person Despite COVID-19 Fears, Poll Finds

Residents wear masks to vote in the runoff elections, at Joslin Elementary School last month.
Residents wear masks to vote in the runoff elections, at Joslin Elementary School last month.

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Support for mail-in voting is soft among Texas Latinos, a key demographic in the upcoming elections, according to  a new poll conducted by Latino Decisions.

The poll, released on the first day of the Democratic National Convention, was commissioned by Latino groups SOMOS and UnidosUS.

Latino voters were asked – if both options were available – whether they would prefer voting in person or by mail. Texas voters said they preferred voting in person over voting by mail, 57% to 43%.

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Janet Murguia, the president and CEO of UnidosUS, said Latino communities in some parts of the country do not commonly vote by mail.

“Our community has not been as accustomed and hasn’t been as exposed to vote by mail,” she said. “There’s lots of concerns.”

In Texas, the option is limited to voters over 65, people with disabilities, and people out of the county or in jail. And, unlike most states, Texas has no plans to extend its vote-by-mail program to more voters during the upcoming presidential election.

Nationwide, there’s been widespread  support for mail-in voting because of health concerns during the pandemic.

Murguia said community groups and public officials should start educating Latino voters about their options.

"Our community needs to hear from trusted voices about what the facts are about voting early, voting by mail,” she said, “and making sure that if they do vote on Election Day – [they know] the best and safest way to do that.”

The poll also found that 76% of Texas Latinos are “concerned or very concerned” that they “might be exposed to coronavirus” if they vote in-person this fall.

Gary Segura, the co-founder and senior partner of Latino Decisions, said this is a warning to groups that want to see Latinos vote.

“For people who are invested in voter mobilization as their mission, we need to make sure we educate this population regarding the options they do and don’t have,” he said.

Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at alopez@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio .

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