Dust off your voter cards.It's time for Texans to head back to the polls, starting today, to finally choose presidential, U.S. Senate, congressional, legislative and other candidates on the ballot this November.And while election officials say they aren't sure how large the turnout might be, they are prepared for record-breaking numbers similar to those seen four years ago in the last presidential race."We're prepared for a 2008 turnout ... so we aren't caught off-guard," Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said. "I don't know if we will get that, but we are ready for that if it comes."Early voting begins today for the Nov. 6 general election and runs through Nov.2.Four years ago, 66 percent of Tarrant County's registered voters headed to the polls for the presidential race -- with most casting their ballots early. That year, 431,799 locals cast their vote early, in person, 29,798 mailed in ballots and 173,671 showed up in person at the polls on Election Day, local records show."I think it's going to be slightly lower this year," said Tom Marshall, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. "In 2008, all the good energy was among Democrats. Now, in 2012, most of the energy is among Republicans who are unhappy with the White House."I'm expecting Republican turnout to be about the same as it was four years ago, but I think the Democratic turnout will be moderately lower," he said. "I think Barack Obama has the George W. Bush fatigue going on."Top of the ballotAt the top of the ballot, of course, is the hotly contested presidential race between incumbent President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are also on the ballot."The interest in the presidential contest is not nearly as intense as in 2008," said Allan Saxe, an associate professor of political science at UTA. "A bit of the bloom is off the flower with President Obama."Near the top of the Texas ballot is the race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate between Republican Ted Cruz, Democrat Paul Sadler, Libertarian John Jay Myers and Green Party candidate David B. Collins.And there are a slew of congressional and legislative races, statewide races, judicial races, state Board of Education races and local races ranging from sheriff to county commissioner.Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade recently announced that a record number of Texans are registered to vote -- more than 13.6 million."I want to thank all Texans who registered to vote this year and all Texans who are already registered voters," Andrade said. "The next step is getting to the polls during early voting or on Election Day."The Justice Department announced last week that it will monitor part of the early voting period in two Texas counties -- Dallas and Harris. Justice Department workers will monitor polling place activities in those counties.Early voters may go to any of Tarrant County's sites. They should bring identification -- their voter registration certificate or alternate ID, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, passport, U.S. citizenship papers or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or other government document."We are encouraging people to vote early, even early during the early voting period," Raborn said. "We will be busiest during the last few days of early voting."If you are ready to cast your ballot, go ahead and do it."Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610Twitter: @annatinsley
Early voting for the Nov. 6 general election runs today through Nov. 2: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. today through Friday; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
Tarrant County Elections Center, 2700 Premier St., Fort Worth. This is the main early voting site. Emergency and limited ballots are available there.
Arlington Subcourthouse, 700 E. Abram St.
Asia Times Square, 2615 W. Pioneer Parkway, Grand Prairie
Bedford Public Library, 2424 Forest Ridge Drive
Benbrook Community Center, 228 San Angelo St.
B.J. Clark Annex, Room 4, 603 Southeast Parkway, Azle
Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center St., Arlington
Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington, 4002 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington
Colleyville City Hall, 100 Main St.
Crowley Community Center, 900 E. Glendale St.
Diamond Hill/Jarvis Branch Library, 1300 N.E. 35th St., Fort Worth
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school district Administration Building 6, Training Room, 1200 Old Decatur Road, Saginaw
Euless Public Library, 201 N. Ector Drive
Elzie Odom Athletic Center, 1601 N.E. Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
Grapevine Community Activities Center, 1175 Municipal Way
Griffin Subcourthouse, 3212 Miller Ave., Fort Worth
Haltom City Northeast Center, 3201 Friendly Lane
Handley/Meadowbrook Community Center, 6201 Beaty St., Fort Worth
Hurst Recreation Center, 700 Mary Drive
JPS Health Center Viola M. Pitts/Como, Lower Level, Suite 100, 4701 Bryant Irvin Road N., Fort Worth
Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway
Kennedale Community Center, 316 W. Third St.
Mahaney Community Center, 6800 Forest Hill Drive, Forest Hill
Mansfield Subcourthouse, 1100 E. Broad St.
Northeast Subcourthouse, 645 Grapevine Highway, Hurst
Former North Richland Hills Recreation Center, 6720 N.E. Loop 820
Sheriff's Department North Patrol Division, 6651 Lake Worth Blvd., Lake Worth
Southlake Town Hall, 1400 Main St.
South Service Center, 1100 S.W. Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
Southside Community Center, 959 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth
Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Ave., Fort Worth
Southwest Subcourthouse, 6551 Granbury Road, Fort Worth
Starrett Elementary School, 2675 Fairmont Drive, Grand Prairie
Summerglen Branch Library, 4205 Basswood Blvd., Fort Worth
Tarrant County Plaza Building, 201 Burnett St., Fort Worth
Villages of Woodland Springs Amenity Center, 12209 Timberland Blvd., Fort Worth
White Settlement Public Library, 8215 White Settlement Road
Worth Heights Community Center, 3551 New York Ave., Fort Worth
Several temporary early voting sites have special days and hours. They are:
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Naylor Student Center, 4530 Stanley Ave.; Texas Wesleyan University, Brown-Lupton Student Center, 1108 S. Collard St.; UNT Health Science Center, Carl E. Everett Education and Administration Building, 3500 Camp Bowie Blvd.
7 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 29-Nov. 1: Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Student Center NSTU, 828 Harwood Road, Hurst; TCC Northwest Campus, WTLO Theater NW Lobby, 4801 Marine Creek Parkway; TCC South Campus, Student Center Room SSTU 1112, 5301 Campus Drive; TCC Southeast Campus, North Ballroom, 2100 Southeast Parkway, Arlington
7 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 29-Nov.2 -- UTA, Maverick Activities Center, 500 W. Nedderman Drive, Arlington; TCU, Brown-Lupton University Union, 2901 Stadium Drive.
Source: Tarrant County Elections Office
Third presidential debate tonight
Time: 8 p.m.
Where to watch: The debate will air on all major broadcast and cable news networks.
Topic: Foreign policy
Moderator: Bob Schieffer