By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (November 7, 2016) – Almost 10,000 early voters flocked to the polls in Erath County, according to Gwinda Jones, county clerk. She said 9,932 early ballots were cast and a number of mail-in ballots that were received through Monday had not yet been counted.
Jones said the early voting numbers top what officials once considered a historic turnout.
“When Obama was first elected in 2008, we had our biggest with 7,898 early votes,” she said. “Of course, our county has grown and voter registration is up, but it’s is still a very big turnout.”
Looking at voter statistics, Jones said officials anticipate a Tuesday turnout of about 5,000 voters. She said historically speaking, about half as many ballots are cast on Election Day.
“We are expecting long lines at each of the polling places across the county,” Jones said. “We are requesting patience, and we ask everyone to remember that the people working the polls volunteer and don’t do this job every day. When you’re in line, give them time.”
Jones also said while most voters prefer the nostalgia of casting ballots at the county courthouse, visiting other vote centers could help cut down on excessive wait times.
Registered voters will have 12 hours to cast ballots Tuesday, with the option to do so at any of the county’s 10 polling places. Polls will be open 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. at the Erath County Courthouse, Centurylink Telephone Office, Texas Bank and United Cooperative Services in Stephenville, as well as the Dublin County Annex, Lingleville School, Morgan Mill Community Center, Selden Community Center, Bluff Dale Fire Department and Huckabay School.
What’s on the ballot
When it comes to popular votes, the argument about who will be the next president of the United States (POTUS) is almost – but not quite – over. Tuesday is Election Day, when registered voters in Erath County and across the nation will have one last opportunity to cast ballots in the race that pits frontrunners (and their supporters) against each other.
The POTUS ballot includes Republican Nominee Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine, as well as Libertarians Gary Johnson and William Weld, Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka and a list of write-in candidates.
The presidential election is not officially over until January. Electors will cast their votes in December, and Congress will tally them in early January. The next U.S. president will be sworn into office on January 20.
Huckabay ISD voters are the only in the county with a lot to consider on the local level. Eleven candidates are vying for five school board seats.
On Election Day, Huckabay voters will see the names of Jeff Heath, Chad Hale, Jason Swatsell, Chrissy Dowell and Tricia Klein on the ballot. Six other candidates, Bill Dowell, Shane Gilliam, Casey Heath, Chris Hoffman, Julie Stewart and Rene Stewart, are on the list of officially declared write in candidates.
Local voters are also being asked to weigh in on the United State Representative, Districts 25 and 11. The District 25 race is between Republican incumbent Roger Williams, Democratic candidate Kathi Thomas and Libertarian Loren Marc Schneiderman. District 11 voters will decide between Republican Incumbent Mike Conaway and Libertarian candidate Nicholas Landholt.
Other contested races on the local ballot include the offices of railroad commissioner; Justice Supreme Court places 3, 5 and 9 and Judge Court of Criminal Appeals place 2, 5 and 6.
Uncontested candidates for state offices, who are all on the Republican ballot, include State Board of Education District 14, Sue Melton-Malone; State Representative District 59, J.D. Sheffield; and Justice 11th Court of Appeals District Place 3, John Bailey.
Earth County races include a number of uncontested Republican candidates, including District Attorney 266th Judicial District, Alan Nash; County Attorney Lisa Pence; Sheriff Tommy Bryant; Tax Assessor-Collector Jennifer Carey; County Commissioner Precinct 1 Dee Stephens; Constable Precinct 1 Jason Schipper; Constable Precinct 2 Lee Roy Gaitan; and County Commissioner Precinct 3 Joe Brown.
Proper identification required
Voters are expected to present one of several forms of photo identification when voting in person, including a Texas driver license, election identification certificate, personal ID card, handgun license, military ID, U.S. citizenship certificate or passport.
But, voters who do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain a photo ID will be able to fill out a declaration of hardship at the polls and present supporting documentation, including a voter registration certificate, certified birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or another government document.