Voting totals currently surpass last two presidential primaries
By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (February 29, 2015) – It appears Erath County voters are ready for a change. Again.
Tuesday is Election Day in the Republican and Democratic primary races. Voters will have from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. to weigh in on each party’s presidential nominee. Republican voters will also have one last opportunity to sound off on three county races and the office of state representative.
Erath County Clerk Gwinda Jones has released a historical summary of local elections, showing early voting totals in the current election surpassed the number of early ballots cast in last two presidential primaries.
“We are doing very well,” Jones said, referring to the high turnout.
This year, almost 3,300 early ballots were cast, but that number could climb to almost 3,600, according to Jones. She said there are about 300 mail-in ballots that will not be included in the voting total until they’re verified.
In 2008, almost 2,640 early ballots were cast. In 2012, early votes totaled almost 2,460.
Historically speaking, voter turnout during “off-year” elections, those that don’t include races for president or governor, is about 10 percent of the number of registered voters. Turnout during primary elections almost doubles.
There are currently less than 20,550 registered Erath County voters.
Looking at the anticipated number of ballots in Tuesday’s primary election, Jones expects to see a similar trend.
During the 2008 presidential primary, which led to the party’s nomination of Democratic President Barrack Obama, almost 3,440 Election Day ballots were cast by both parties in Erath County, which when combined with early ballots, totaled almost 6,075.
In 2012, ballots for both party’s primary votes combined to more than 4,770 across the county.
The local voter comparison also shows that the number of primary voters aligning with the Democratic Party drastically decreased between the last two presidential primaries. In the 2008 primary, more than 2,740 ballots were counted for the Democrats. In 2012, that number was 330, less than 10 percent, of the almost 4,780 ballots cast.
But, according to Jones, almost 290 Democratic ballots have been counted in the current race, up from less than 140 who voted early in 2012.
The 2008-2012 dip in Democrats might not be all about displeasure with the current administration or the 2008 hope for change. For some time, Erath has been a predominantly Republican county, which means voters wanting to participate in the election of county officials must request the party’s ballot.
Such is the case in the current primary race, which includes three contested county races, as well as the race for State Representative. All of those candidates are running on the Republican ballot.
Erath County Sheriff’s incumbent Tommy Bryant is running for re-election in a race against Clell D. Murray and Leslie ‘Tish’ Lecroy.
Jimmy Towe, Jason Schipper and Scott Daily are vying for the office of Constable of Precincts 1, 3 and 4, and incumbent Joe Brown is facing a challenge from Dale Wesley Dove for his seat on Erath County Commissioners Court, Pct. 2.
Incumbent State Representative J.D. Sheffield is also vying to keep his seat in District 59 and facing a challenge from Stephenville businessman Brent Graves.
“Voters can vote at any of the polling places, regardless of where they live,” Jones said.
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.