Texans: It's time to head to the polls for the 2018 midterm primaries.
Already, nearly twice as many people have voted early as did in the last midterm four years ago. In red-state Texas, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in early voting this year.
Now it's time for the rest of Texans to weigh in on races up and down the ballot — from the U.S. Senate to county justice of the peace — in the country's first primary election of the year.
“It’s a chance to have a voice in the conversation, a seat at the table," Secretary of State Rolando Pablos previously told the Star-Telegram. “If we squander that, we do not have a voice.
'Every vote matters'
In the state's 15 largest counties, more than 885,000 people voted early, either in person or by mail — 420,329 Republicans and 465,245 Democrats — state election records show.
While that's less than 9 percent of the state's eligible voters, it still shows an increase of nearly 300,000 voters over four years ago.
"Democrats are more motivated this year," said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University. "Democrats have been motivated by their opposition to Donald Trump. This is something we are seeing nationwide.
"But more participation in the primary doesn't mean those candidates will win in the fall," he said. "Right now is the time to nominate candidates. They will be elected in November. Will the enthusiasm carry over to the fall? Or will it change?"
More Tarrant County voters headed to the polls early this year than in 2014. Although there was a surge in local Democratic turnout, more Republicans cast early ballots here.
This year, 55,711 Republicans and 38,731 Democrats voted here early in person or by mail. Four years ago, it was 52,719 Republicans and 22,621 Democrats.
"Most urban areas are Democratic," Riddlesperger said. "Tarrant County is one of the biggest Republican-leaning counties in the country."
Texans who vote will pick candidates for posts in Congress, the Texas Legislature, courts across the state and local races ranging from tax assessor-collector to district clerk.
Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What you need
Double-check your polling site. It may have changed since the last election.
And make sure to bring your voter registration card and photo ID to the polls.
The seven state-approved photo IDs: Texas driver’s license, Texas election identification certificate, Texas personal identification card, Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, U.S. military ID card with photo, U.S. citizenship certificate with photo and U.S. passport.
Anyone who doesn’t have one of those IDs may still vote after showing another form of identification and filling out a “reasonable impediment declaration.”
For information contact the Tarrant County Elections Center at 817-831-8683.