PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

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November 6, 2012

Voters get their say today

— Months-long campaigns, heated debates and political advertisements will all culminate today for the 2012 general election.

While the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney has received all the national publicity, the battle for local elections is still going strong.

The county clerk’s office, which is in charge of all elections in Jefferson County, had to add voting machines and polling workers at its busiest locations during early voting. County Clerk Carolyn Guidry said there seems to be a large interest in this election compared to the past.

“It seems, for the moment, that voter apathy has disappeared,” she said.

Jefferson County had 67,925 people cast a ballot during early voting this year, an increase of more than 6,000 from the last presidential election. Despite 4,300 less registered voters during this year’s election compared to 2008, participation has increased.

This year, 46.1 percent of registered voters have already cast a ballot. In 2008, 58.65 percent of registered voters had participated at the end of the election.

The race between Nick Lampson and Randy Weber for Congressional District 14 has been especially close, with each campaign raising more than $1 million, according to the Federal Elections Committee website.

“If the voters of Congressional District 14 hire me, they will have a true representative who will be a bold leader,” Weber said in a statement. “An overwhelming majority have made it clear that they are upset with the way the current administration has conducted themselves.”

But Lampson has taken the reigns with media endorsements, receiving the nod from the Houston Chronicle, Galveston Daily News and Beaumont Enterprise. Former President Bill Clinton also promoted Lampson during a Democratic rally at Lamar University last month.

“Jefferson County has the opportunity to have one of its own as its representative in Congress, and it’s creating a lot of excitement,” Lampson said in a statement.

The less-publicized races for tax assessor-collector and the 136th district court could be much tighter than in the past.

Democratic incumbent Milton Gunn Shuffield has been the 136th judge for more than 16 years and is letting that experience lead his campaign. His opponent on the Republican ballot, Rick Williams, served on the bench for 12 months after being appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2006 and thinks it’s time for a change.

Republican Shane Howard, the current tax assessor-collector, is confident he’ll win because he has supporters from both parties and made major changes to the tax office. Thomas Sigee, the Democratic challenger who is running largely on his military background, wants to increase accessibility and extend tax office hours.

Click here for the Jefferson County Clerk's website. You can find voting locations, latest numbers and other valuable information.

Email: jbrown@panews and bcrum@panews.com

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