Tarrant County voters to decide key issues today

In November, voters braved wind and rain to vote. On Saturday, they may also face rainy weather.
In November, voters braved wind and rain to vote. On Saturday, they may also face rainy weather. Star-Telegram archives.

After an unusually high turnout during early voting, the rest of Tarrant County voters have from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to cast their ballots Saturday for a wide range of propositions and city council, school board and district races.

Voters should also watch for questionable weather, with National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Dunn saying the Dallas-Fort Worth area has a chance for severe thunderstorms in the mid-to-late afternoon.

Jim Riddlesperger, a TCU political science professor, said the possibility for inclement weather could depress Election Day turnout. He added that the nine days of in-person early voting, which saw a 65 percent increase this year over 2014, is already having a disproportionate effect on election results, Riddlesperger said.

“We no longer have Election Day, we have election weeks in Texas,” said Riddlesperger. “In Texas, more and more people are taking advantage of early voting opportunities. I think we are already seeing early voting has a disproportionate impact, and I think that is a trend that will continue.”

One of the biggest races being decided today is the mayor’s race in Arlington, where Robert Cluck is seeking a seventh two-year term against three challengers, including long-time community leader Jeff Williams.

Riddlesperger said some of the area’s propositions — including a proposition out of Arlington to ban red light cameras and one in Colleyville dealing with future construction on the tree-lined Glade Road — also have galvanized voters.

“Anytime there is a proposition that has a concrete effect on people’s lives, you are likely to get better turnout than not, and I think the red light cameras have garnered a lot controversy,” he said.

Just in early voting numbers, Colleyville has already seen 19 percent of its registered voters at the polls and Arlington has already seen 8 percent.

Another race turning out voters, Riddlesperger said, is the five-way race for two spots on the Tarrant Regional Water District Board.

The highly polarized race, which is pitting incumbents Jim Lane and Marty Leonard against teamed-up Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner and an independent challenger in Keith Annis, has had all sides working to get votes out. The “nastiness” of the campaigns could also be spurring voters, Riddlesperger said.

Riddlesperger emphasized that even a small number of voters can sway election results in local elections, and said the amount of money raised is not necessarily a good indicator of the outcome, with “a bit of shoe leather” going a long way in a door-to-door campaign.

“In a local election, 200 more people turning out can really change the outcome,” he said.

Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984

Twitter: @catyhirst

Questions? Call the Tarrant County Elections Administration at 817-831-8683.

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