Politics & Government

Election Day carries on despite rain, power failures, wrong ballots

Updated at 2:30 p.m.

Voters are still flocking to the polls, letting their voices be heard — despite rain and lines — in this year’s mid-term election.

Local election administrators say there have been a few glitches in Tarrant County today: The wrong ballots and machines delivered to two schools, brief power outages because of the weather at a few voting sites and voters using the wrong ballots at one site.

At the Western Hills Church of Christ, at least one voter took a Benbrook ballot, which was the wrong ballot, and a poll worker retrieved it and gave that person the correct ballot, said Frank Phillips, Tarrant County’s Elections Administrator.

Early this morning, poll workers realized that election equipment and ballots meant for Daggett Elementary instead had been delivered to Lily B. Clayton Elementary, and vice versa.

“Their equipment was swapped, so we sent out emergency equipment for voters to use while we swapped back the equipment (and ballots),” Phillips said.

A steady stream of voters cast ballots at Paschal High School Tuesday. By early afternoon, 458 people had voted there.

Tim Jones, 32, who was voting at Paschal, said civic duty got him to the polls. "I really do believe anyone who complains better be voting," he said.

Lauren Lindsey, 28, said voters in her generation are casting ballots because they see how lawmakers can touch their everyday lives.

"I think — at least with my age group — a lot of people are getting jobs now and they are actively seeing how their representatives influence their jobs, their careers and their futures."

A few elections sites that had electricity issues because of the rain. Phillips said a generator was sent to one site and battery backups in the elections equipment kept machinery operating at other sites that had electrical glitches.

Overall, reports show voters heading to the polls and standing in line at times.

“There’s been a pretty heavy turnout,” Phillips said. “That’s absolutely encouraging. It means people aren’t going to let the rain stop them.”

More information about the elections can be found on the Tarrant County Elections website.

— Anna M. Tinsley and Diane Smith

Updated: 11 a.m.

Voters undaunted by wind and rain waited in long lines at Paschal High School and other sites, and several polling places initially had the wrong ballots Tuesday morning.

The wrong ballots were delivered to several sites, among them Daggett and Lily B. Clayton elementary schools and Western Hills Church of Christ, which initially got Benbrook ballots. Those were voided and voters cast Fort Worth ballots.

Opponents to the Keller Independent School District bond issue were passing out flyers early at one precinct, but had abandoned the effort as the rain got worse.

At Odeal Pearcy Elementary School in southeast Arlington, 213 residents had cast ballots by 9:30 a.m.

— Andrea Ahles, Bill Hanna and Susan Schrock

ORIGINAL STORY:

The robo-calls, campaign mailers and political commercials all come to an end today as Texans head to the polls to once and for all pick a new slate of leaders for the state.

The arrival of Election Day means an end to more than a year’s worth of campaigning for Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis, who both hope to become the state’s 48th governor next year.

But the two campaigned until the last minute, with Abbott urging voters at Monday events in Dallas, Houston and Austin to head to the polls and Davis encouraging the same at block walking events in Austin, San Antonio and Houston.

“The voters of Texas will decide what they want the future of this state to look like,” Abbott said in an email to supporters. “It’s the most important day of this campaign — everything we have worked so hard for since I announced my campaign for governor last summer.”

Davis reached out to her supporters as well.

“[Tuesday], we’ll know if we did enough to ride the momentum all the way to Austin,” she wrote in an email. “But … we need to keep working. Because our job isn’t finished until the last Texan casts their vote.”

Also urging Texas voters Monday to cast ballots was President Barack Obama, who said in a conference call that voter apathy could ensure the GOP retains control in the state today.

Picking the next governor, as well as officials to lead dozens of other offices, awaits Texans casting ballots on Election Day in an election that is guaranteed to shepherd in the state’s biggest political change in decades. Every major statewide office will have a newly elected official at its helm next year.

Key races in Tarrant County — such as Texas Senate District 10 and House District 94 to Tarrant County commissioners and justices of the peace — will also be decided.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, but Mother Nature isn’t expected to do any favors for candidates, with rain in the forecast across much of the state.

Already, nearly 20 percent of Texas voters — 1.7 million — have logged their vote through early voting.

While that’s essentially the same number of Texans who voted early in the 2010 gubernatorial race, the turnout has been greater in Tarrant County. Here, 212,492 voters cast ballots in person and mail compared with 171,278 four years ago, Texas secretary of state records show.

At the top of the ballot is the hotly contested, more than $80 million gubernatorial race to replace longtime Republican Gov. Rick Perry — who, for the first gubernatorial race in a dozen years, doesn’t have his name on the ballot.

So Texas will have a new governor next year no matter what.

Two other candidates are on the ballot with Abbott and Davis — Libertarian Kathie Glass, a Houston attorney, and Green Party candidate Brandon Parmer, who has not raised money or campaigned for the post.

Abbott campaign

On Monday, Abbott wrapped up his 25 city “Get Out The Vote” tour, with stops at a smokehouse in Dallas, a restaurant in Houston and an airport in Austin.

With him for the first two stops were Chuck Norris, the martial arts artist and actor who started in Walker, Texas Ranger, and state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy.

The attorney general wrapped up an election eve campaign swing with a “welcome back” rally in Austin, proclaiming that his campaign was on the “one yard line” and poised for potential victory. But he expressed concern about forecasts of heavy rain on Election Day and challenged supporters, “Do not let the rain dampen your effort to go out and cast a vote.”

Abbott, repeating a signature campaign theme, again tied Davis to Obama after the president participated in the conference call with Davis and Texas Democrats. “We’re not surprised,” he said. “The Davis campaign has been run by Barack Obama operatives from the very beginning. Wendy Davis’ ideology and the values she stands for are the exact same as Barack Obama.”

At the end of the day, he hosted a statewide tele-townhall meeting, sharing his vision for the future of Texas and answering questions from voters. State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, moderated the tele-townhall that drew about 70,000 callers, according to Abbott.

In the conference call, Abbott urged backers to “go toe-to-toe with Barack Obama” and his Texas supporters by casting votes on Election Day.

Davis campaign

Davis began Monday at an early morning community block walk in Austin, moving on to others in San Antonio and Houston, visiting homes of supporters and a campaign field office to encourage Texans to head to the polls on Election Day.

“We know that this race is going to shape the future of Texas for generations to come,” she said. “We know we are choosing not just between two dramatically different people but two dramatically different paths.”

Davis, the underdog who continues to publicly refuse to talk about even the chance of her losing the election, thanked supporters for working to get her name out and support her in this bid for office.

“Our people are still so enthusiastic,” she told reporters. “I have been amazed really at how many people there are who understand that their voices do matter.”

Glass, who wrapped up her campaign with events in Austin and San Antonio and various radio show appearances, campaigned saying the two-party system is corrupt.

“People who say that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got are … optimists. The status quo will not hold,” she said. “If we continue down the same path, we will lose our prosperity and liberty to an out of control federal government and the Texas cronies.”

On the ballot

The No. 2 post in the state — that of lieutenant governor — also is up for grabs between Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, Libertarian Robert D. Butler and Green Party candidate Chandrakantha Courtney.

Other statewide posts near the top of the ballot include those for attorney general and state comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner.

Also on the ballot are a slew of races for congressional seats, Texas House and Senate seats and the State Board of Education, as well as judicial posts up and down the ballot and local races ranging from county commissioner to justice of the peace.

In addition to all the races on the ballot, there are several issues, depending on where voters live. All Texans will choose whether to support a proposal regarding transportation funding.

Local voters will weigh in on issues such as a multipurpose arena in Fort Worth, school improvements in Aledo, Birdville and Keller, streets in Arlington and elected officials in cities from Benbrook to Keller.

Voter ID

Voters need to bring with them a photo ID — such as a driver’s license, a state-issued personal ID card, concealed handgun license, military card and citizenship certificate with photo or a passport. Any license that’s expired must not be expired for more than 60 days.

Federal election observers will be in Fort Worth — and a handful of other Texas cities — watching elections and being available to handle any complaints about fraud or voting rights abuses.

“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud,” U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldana said.

Special contributor Dave Montgomery contributed to this report, which includes material from The Texas Tribune.

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