May 7, 2014

Elections official: ‘I’m not seeing any driving force getting voters out’

Early voting didn’t see much of an uptick for the municipal election Saturday, officials say.

More issues and contested races may be on the ballot this Saturday, but election officials say they don’t see a “driving force” getting the voters to turn out.

Early voting ended Tuesday. Almost 27,000 people cast ballots in a local election that features more than 100 races throughout Tarrant County.

While this election cycle has about 200,000 more eligible voters because there are more contested races, about the same number of people came out to vote as before, said Stephen Vickers, chief deputy elections administrator for Tarrant County.

The closest comparable May election was in 2012, when 19,337 cast ballots in person, compared with 26,789 this time.

“I think the turnout is on par with what I expected based on the last several May elections,” Vickers said. “I’m not seeing any driving force getting voters out.”

This year’s elections include a historic $663.1 million all-or-nothing bond package for the Arlington school district, with four districtwide centers for athletics, agriculture, fine arts and career/technical programs. The package also includes updates to facilities, security and transportation.

A total of 7,103 Arlington voters turned out early for the bond election and contested trustee race.

Fort Worth’s ballot includes a $292 million bond program that the City Council calls “ one of the most vetted” in its history.

On Saturday, voters will be asked to renew the Fort Worth Crime Control and Prevention tax, which accounts for an extra $716 million in crime-fighting money that voters approved in 1995 with a sales tax increase.

Fort Worth’s bond package includes transportation and infrastructure, parks and community services, two libraries, two new fire stations, Municipal Court renovations, facility expenses, and a new animal care and control center.

No tax increase is planned, but the projects will add to the city’s debt.

A total of 5,671 Fort Worth voters cast early ballots.

There are also contested City Council races in Fort Worth, Arlington, Bedford, Colleyville, Euless, Haltom City, Mansfield and River Oaks.

Vickers expects up to a 7 percent overall turnout for this election cycle, which includes early voting and election day voting.

The 2012 elections brought out 6.4 percent.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

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