During the recent primary election on March 3, voters across two polling locations in a North Texas county mentioned immigration, healthcare, and education as the issues concerning them as they went to vote. Others expressed concern about rising crime, criminal justice, and the need for faith in God.

On Election Day, Texas Scorecard visited two polling locations in Tarrant County: first, the Tarrant County Plaza Building in downtown Fort Worth around lunchtime, then the Bedford Public Library around 5 p.m. We went there not to cover political campaigns, but to hear directly from voters about the issues concerning them as they went to cast their ballots.

The following responses are from individuals who agreed to be interviewed. Texas Scorecard did not ask about their party affiliation, or who they planned to vote for.

Climate change and healthcare were the first issues brought up at the downtown Fort Worth location. “My No. 1 concern is climate change because I think it’s an existential threat,” Ellen told us. “No. 2 is healthcare. The healthcare system is broken, and everybody agrees that it is.”

Gary says he is concerned with our representation in Congress. “I’m just a little concerned about how we’re being represented and making sure [Congress has] our best interests in mind.”

“Some of the main issues concerning me are issues that are concerning a lot of minority people: the criminal justice system [and] healthcare,” Michael replied. “And is the Social Security going to be around by the time that we all retire?”

Michael also listed immigration as one of his concerns. “It should just be a fair system where people can come over and be able to get citizenship. But they need to earn it.” When asked if he favored open borders—and anyone who crosses over getting automatic citizenship—Michael responded, “No, I am not. As a voter, no.”

Della shared similar concerns about immigration. “I’m an immigrant here, myself,” she said. “I favor immigration but—like me—they should … go through the process. The right process.” When asked about having open borders, Della shared the same view as Michael. “I’m not in favor of that.”

Deshenet of South Fort Worth named safety as her top concern. “The crime rate is so crazy,” she said. “And then people are not trusting the police because they’re scared of the police too.”

“I don’t feel safe with them in my neighborhood.”

She also expressed a lack of faith in elected officials. “I haven’t seen a candidate that’s been worthy of me being like, ‘Okay, you’re going to fix this more than my own family can fix it.”

After explaining that—according to data from the Tarrant Appraisal District—the average Fort Worth homeowner’s property tax bill has increased more than 42 percent since 2013, we asked Deshenet if she had seen any improvement in public safety services. “No, not at all,” was her response.

“For us to have to be paying more to live over there … why? Because we’re living closer to downtown?”

Voters in Bedford shared some of the concerns mentioned by Fort Worth voters and brought up new concerns of their own. Kim named education, immigration, and healthcare as her top concerns.

“I’m self-employed, so I don’t have health insurance, and I can’t get health insurance even through what was called Obamacare.” She also mentioned wanting a higher minimum wage, cleaner air, and lower property taxes. “Bedford is one of the higher cities in the area, property tax-wise.”

“Education, healthcare, and the right to bear arms,” were mentioned by another couple.

Michelle, a teacher, listed education as her biggest issue, explaining there should be changes with testing. “I know teachers have to be accountable, but it’s intense.”

When asked if she had noticed any changes since the passage of Texas House Bill 3 in 2019, which poured more taxpayer dollars into education and raised teacher pay, she gave the following reply: “Yes, I did see a change in [salary]. But, the testing … we’d still like to see little changes in that. But, yes, the pay was great.”

The right to bear arms was on the mind of Weston, a military veteran. “I want to be able to protect people around me and myself.”

He also expressed concern about how his tax dollars are spent. “I don’t want to be paying for other people’s stuff as well as my own,” he added. “I work hard for my money. I want to be able to pay for me and my family, not have to support everybody else.” Weston added that he did believe in welfare for those unable to work.

Another voter, Judy, echoed some who had spoken earlier.

“The economy, immigration, and the amount of money we’re spending on people who are not citizens,” Judy told us. She went on to say that she was pleased overall with how the federal government is currently addressing those issues.

Another voter brought up the issue that is grabbing headlines lately. “An issue that’s most pressing is how the government is handling the coronavirus,” Mason said. “The overall thing is, I don’t like the way that it’s being approached.”

The last voter we spoke with mentioned her concern for the well-being of the unborn, as well as our souls. “I think I’m worried about the country, as far as these unborn babies, and prayer. And God needs to be brought back into our country,” Angela said.

Early voting for the November 3, 2020, general election starts on October 19.

Robert Montoya

A former filmmaker, University of North Texas graduate, and one-time assistant language teacher, Robert Montoya misses Japan and the 1980s. He is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard.

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