EL PASO, TX – Ernesto M. Torres, 84, waited patiently in line for more than an hour. He was not in a hurry. As somebody who has been voting for almost 60 years, he recognized the importance of this presidential election.
“My vote is essential for this presidential election,” said Torres, a Vietnam War veteran. “As we vote, our voice will be heard and eventually we might make history.”
He said this presidential election is one of the most significant in recent times, even though both candidates have been involved in a variety of scandals.
“In all the years that I have voted, I have not seen anything like this,” Torres said. “It’s unbelievable that my wife and I have been in line for approximately more than one hour. I believe everyone’s voice should be respected in this election.”
Torres is one of the thousands of U.S. citizens who voted throughout the early voting period in Texas, which went from Oct 24 to Nov. 4. Long lines were not a problem for many voters.
Maria Martinez, who recently received her citizenship, seemed excited about voting for the first time.
“I don’t care if I have to be in line for more than one hour,” Martinez said. “I know that my vote is really important for this election. Let’s see who wins.”
El Paso County elections administrator Lisa Wise reported that almost twice as many people voted on the first day of the early voting period compared to the last presidential election.
“In 2008, 8,658 people went out to vote on the first day, and in 2012 around 9,300 people voted,” Wise said. “This year, 15,085 people expressed their voice on the first electoral day. Each day, the number of people voting has been increasing.”
People from different generations are casting their vote during the early voting period, which ends Nov. 4. And there is still some doubt about the two candidates.
One of those undecided voters is 20-year-old student, Armando Cortez. He has been following the presidential debates and does not think that either of the two candidates are strong enough for that position.
“This is the first time I vote,” Cortez said. “I have always known that as a citizen, our vote is really valuable. None of them convince me, but I’ll vote for the one who will eventually help me reach my goals.”
On the other hand, 27-year-old Kervin Seco already knows who he is voting for. He does not follow media that often, but occasionally he visits the candidates’ websites to have a close look at what they are offering.
“One of the candidates knows more about politics than the other,” said Seco. “I have read in the newspaper about past debates and what each one has been up to. Honestly, I believe that this election will be kind of even.”
Millennials, who comprise one of the largest age groups in the U.S., have not been seen that frequently throughout the early voting week.
“The average age of voters during this week has been 61,” Wise said. “We hope to see more millennials voting during the weekend.”
The number of people who are currently registered to vote increased this year. According to El Paso County published data, around 430,000 people registered to vote in El Paso.
Both Trump and Clinton’s followers want a democracy that respects their opinions. In an analysis conducted by the Pew Research Center, 93 percent of Clinton’s supporters and 91 percent of Trump’s supporters want an open and fair election.
This election has brought together people from different ages. Wise has noted that even millennials have been keeping up with this election. Politics might not interest them that much, but they want to make a difference.
“Probably, by the end of the presidential election, the number of total votes will be higher than previous decades,” Wise said.
Check this map for early voting locations