By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (February 14, 2016) – Sample ballots have been posted. Election equipment has been tested. Erath County is ready for a primary election. Early voting kicks off Tuesday.
When and where to vote
Early voting will be held through Friday, February 26. Early voters may cast their ballots at either of two locations, the Erath County Courthouse or Dublin County Annex, according to Gwinda Jones, county clerk.
The polls will be open for two weeks at the county courthouse in Stephenville. Ballots can be cast 8 a.m.-5 pm. Tuesday-Friday of this coming week, February 16-19. Polls will also be open 1-4 p.m. Sunday, February 21.
Monday, February 22 – Friday, February 26, voting will take place at the Erath County Courthouse and Dublin County Annex, located at 219 S. Grafton Street, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
“Election Day ballots will be cast 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 1,” Jones said. “Voters can vote at any of the polling places, regardless of where they live. A lot of people prefer to vote at the county courthouse on Election Day, but due to the large turnout we are expecting, I suggest voters consider another location to avoid delays.”
In addition to the Erath County Courthouse and Dublin Annex, polling places include TexasBank, 988 Wolfe Nursery Road in Stephenville; United Cooperative Services, 1200 Glen Rose Highway in Stephenville; Lingleville School, 21261 N FM 219; Morgan Mill Community Center, 406 CR 156; Selden Community Center, 4142 FM 913; Bluff Dale Fire Department, 175 Holt Street; and Huckabay School, 200 CR 421.
Requests for ballot by mail must be received no later than Friday, February 19, by calling (254) 965-1444.
Things to consider
Looking at local races, Jones said the election could be decided on Primary Day, March 1, as none of the races have drawn candidates from the Democratic party. At the latest, the local offices will be decided during the May 24 runoff election.
With Republicans holding a monopoly on the local level, Jones said some voters will be forced to make a decision.
“They’ll have to ask themselves if the national candidates or the local candidates need their support the most,” she said.
Primary voters aligning themselves with the Democrats will have a voice in the election of the party’s nominee in the races for U.S. president and railroad commissioner. But, choosing to weigh in on those races means those voters can’t help decide three Erath County offices or have a say in the race for state representative.
“I am not telling anyone how to vote, but if you want to vote local, you can only vote Republican,” Jones explained. “Either way, voters will have to pick a party during the primary election.”
If there is a local runoff election, only individuals who cast Republican ballots in the March 1 primary will be allowed to vote, Jones continued.
“A runoff will be held if there are more than two candidates in a race and a single candidate doesn’t get 50 percent or more of the votes,” Jones said. “The two candidates with the greatest number of primary votes will be on the runoff ballot.”
The runoff election would be May 24.
Looking at Erath County offices, there are three contested races on the ballot, including two three-way races.
Incumbent Tommy Bryant is ready for another term as Erath County sheriff, but he will first have to ward off challenges from Clell D. Murray and Leslie ‘Tish’ Lecroy.
In the race for constable over precincts 1, 3, 4, hopefuls Jimmy Towe, Jason Schipper and Scott Daily are facing off. Incumbent Larry Ciccarrelli has his eye on retirement and isn’t seeking re-election.
Meanwhile, Incumbent Joe Brown is facing a challenge from Dale Wesley Dove for his seat on Erath County Commissioners Court, Pct. 3.
Incumbent J.D. Sheffield is vying to keep his seat as state representative over District 59 and facing a challenge from Stephenville businessman Brent Graves.
Jones is reminding individuals who would like to vote for the Democratic nominee in the November 8 presidential election that they can do so no matter how they vote in the upcoming primary race.
Other things to remember
Finally, Jones shared a few tips and things to avoid when voting:
- All voters must present a photo identification
- Despite new gun laws, firearms are prohibited at all polling places
- All cell phones are prohibited, even when waiting in line
- Monday is a federal holiday, government offices will be closed
- All polling places allow curbside voting for individuals needing assistance
- Erath County Courthouse has an outside buzzer that allows voters needing help to alert election officials
- Erath County voters can find additional information at http://co.erath.tx.us/votinginfo.html