Voters scarce on Saturday; polls closed at 7 p.m.

Published 3:36 pm Saturday, June 22, 2019

Mid-afternoon totals may suggest voter enthusiasm flattened out Saturday in the Port Arthur mayoral runoff. At many polling sites, workers and volunteers far outnumbered voters.

Only four — count ‘em: 1, 2, 3, 4 — voters made it to the polls at Thomas Jefferson Middle School by 1:30 p.m., with no one voting between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Nor were any voters in sight.

Voter turnout was better at Tyrrell Elementary and the Port Arthur Public Library, which is usually the case, observers said. Fifty-seven had voted at Tyrrell Elementary, 110 at the library by 1:30 p.m.

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But absent a late rush at the polls, which are open 7-7, and an unexpected volume of mail ballots, numbers may be tamped down from the first go-around.

The early voting mark was 2,486 — brisk for a runoff, voting officials said. That was almost as many as recorded during early voting for the May 4 General Election, which included five candidates and other races.

At Tyrrell, two volunteers — one for incumbent Derrick Freeman, the other for challenger Thurman Bartie — fanned themselves in the shade around 2 p.m. The temperature was 92. Nearby, four small children conducted “cheerleader” style encouragement for the incumbent, but there were no voters on hand to see them.

Hours were ticking by at nearby Thomas Jefferson, where voters had stopped coming at all.

Only the library reflected a trace of enthusiasm. Voters trickled in steadily.

One voter approaching the library said she was there mostly to vote against one candidate, not necessarily for the other. She wouldn’t say who.