PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 3, 2014

Turnout light in primary elections

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Turnout for today’s primary elections has been light in Jefferson County thus far, but citizens have one more opportunity to cast their vote in multiple races that will decide Democratic and Republican candidates for the November ballot.

Statewide races, such as governor, attorney general and State Representative for District 21, are on the ballot, along with county races such as district clerk.

Jefferson County has seen 8,167 ballots cast in the Democratic primaries during early voting, and 6,629 on the Republican side, Theresa Goodness, deputy county clerk, said — amounting to 9.7 percent of the county’s 143,638 registered voters.

“This is the governor’s race, so obviously it’s not as big a turnout as when there’s a presidential election,” Goodness said.

Democratic numbers are down from 10,694 ballots in the 2010 primary, but the Republicans have seen a substantial increase from the 4,485 early ballots cast four years ago. This is due, Goodness said, to more contested local races than the county has seen in the past.

State law dictates that residents can only vote in one party’s primary during a given year, Goodness said, but not voting in the primary elections does not disqualify one from doing so in November’s general election.

“Which primary you voted in has no effect on the ballot you receive in the November election,” Goodness said. “You can vote however you like.”

A candidate must receive more than 50 percent of all votes cast in order to be its party’s candidate. If this is not the case, run-off elections will be held May 27.

“Any time you have three or more candidates, the likelihood of a run off is pretty good,” Goodness said.

Five Democratic candidates are vying for Justice of the Peace Precinct 8, increasing the possibility of a run off. Voters are not permitted to vote in a different party’s run off, Goodness said.

Goodness reminded voters to arrive at the polling location of their choice with one of the acceptable forms of photo identification — which includes a number of documents issued by the Department of Public Safety (DPS), such as a driver’s license; a personal identification card; an election identification card (EIC) or a Texas concealed handgun license; as well as a United States military identification card; a U.S. passport or a U.S. citizenship certificate containing a photograph.

If voters show up to the polls without a photo ID, they will be permitted to vote using a provisional ballot, and from then will have six days to present an acceptable form of ID to the voter registrar’s office so that their ballot may be counted.

Jefferson County citizens may vote at one of 53 countywide polling locations, which will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. However, with a 70 percent chance of rain and the possibility of freezing precipitation, Goodness recommended voting as early as possible.

“With the weather tomorrow, we would urge voters not to wait until the last minute,” she said.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA