Early voting starts today

02/18/2014 12:12 PM

02/18/2014 1:18 PM

Texas voters have big decisions to make this primary election, weighing in on races ranging from U.S. Senate and governor to district attorney and justice of the peace.

And they can start making their starting choices Tuesday.

“Your vote is your voice,” Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said. “We expect people to come out and take advantage of the voting process.”

Early voting runs through Feb. 28 for the March 4 primary election.

This year, contested races run up and down the ballot for both Republicans and Democrats.

Statewide, races getting much of the attention are for U.S. senator, Texas governor and top state posts ranging from lieutenant governor to comptroller. Locally, other races — for state Senate, state House, district attorney and several judicial posts — are among those generating talk as well.

Anyone headed to the polls to weigh in on these and other races should make sure to take a valid, government-issued photo ID, election officials said.

“Anyone who goes in person to the polls March 4 or for early voting needs a voter ID,” said Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry, who stopped in Fort Worth last week as part of her effort to travel around the state and remind Texans about bringing photo IDs to the polls. “This is the second election in Texas where a photo ID is required.”

Raborn said he doesn’t have a formal prediction of how many voters will turn out, but he thinks it might be 15 percent or higher.

As of late January, Tarrant County had 967,478 registered voters, election records show.

On the ballot

Election officials suggest Texans cast ballots early, if possible.

Anyone voting early may go to any of the early voting sites in the county, rather than just one particular location, as is the case on Election Day.

“We encourage people to take advantage of early voting and not wait until Election Day,” Raborn said.

Texans from both parties will cast primary ballots in contested races such as U.S. senator and U.S. representative, Texas governor, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner.

Several local candidates are on the statewide ballot — from Keller’s Curt Cleaver, who seeks to replace John Cornyn in the U.S. Senate, to state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who hopes to pick up the Democratic Party’s nomination for the job of Texas governor, to George P. Bush of Fort Worth, who wants to claim the GOP nomination to become the state’s next land commissioner.

Local voters will weigh in on State Board of Education races, state House and Senate races, as well as decide on a new Tarrant County district attorney and a number of contested judicial races and several county posts.

Early voting

Sample ballots are listed online at www.tarrantcounty.com/evote.

Applications for mail-in ballots, sample ballots and a list of Election Day polling sites are here. Completed applications must be returned by Friday.

They may be mailed to Tarrant County Early Voting, P.O. Box 961011, Fort Worth, TX 76161-0011 or faxed to 817-831-6118.

For more information on mail-in ballots or any election issue, call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683.

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