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Early voting begins in Tarrant County's May 12 elections

On Monday, the first day of early voting, 1,784 voters cast ballots in municipal and school board elections across Tarrant County, according to preliminary totals.

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn noted that there are about half as many polling places this year because the Fort Worth school district, Tarrant Regional Water District and other entities moved elections from even to odd years.

In Arlington, where eight candidates are vying to replace the councilman who stepped down in February and four other council races are contested, there were 282 votes, up from 194 in 2010. In Fort Worth, 113 votes were cast in the District 8 special election, in which three candidates are running to replace Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks.

On the first day Richland Hills voters could vote on whether to merge with neighboring North Richland Hills, 103 cast ballots. In the May 2011 municipal elections, 32 votes were cast on the first day.

Raborn said early voters should make sure the districts listed on their voter registration certificates are accurate before they vote.

"It's important for voters to review their cards" and call if they believe there are any errors, Raborn said. "We'd rather answer those kinds of questions before they get into the voting booth."

A number of people have already called the elections office with concerns that they are in the wrong districts. Raborn said election workers went back to check appraisal districts and maps. In some cases, people had previously been listed in the wrong districts, and officials moved them into the correct ones. In other cases, they made corrections on voters' cards.

"None of our sources are infallible," Raborn said. "We have to verify several ways and not all the maps are consistent. ... If someone calls us and says they don't think their districts are right, we are going to see if it's right or a mistake."

Other callers are concerned about registration cards that were damaged in the mail or that have still not arrived.

Election officials locally and statewide worked on a unusually tight schedule this year because of delays caused by redistricting.

"With this redistricting process, we pretty much reshuffled the entire deck in about three months' less time than we were accustomed to doing it," Raborn said. "There probably are going to be a few errors along the way."

Raborn also stressed the advantages of voting early this year.

"So many people are going to have changes in polling places from past elections, and some people will have different polling places in the May 12 election than the May 29 election," he said. "It's going to be a great year to vote early."

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

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