Third election in three months? Yep, but the one Tuesday could be the most important

These are the candidates you’ll see on the Tarrant County primary runoff ballots in May

For the May 2018 Tarrant County primary runoff races, voters will be given a ballot with either Republican or Democratic candidates. Here are all of the races and candidates on both ballots.
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For the May 2018 Tarrant County primary runoff races, voters will be given a ballot with either Republican or Democratic candidates. Here are all of the races and candidates on both ballots.

Did you know there's an election Tuesday?

Many don't, even though election officials have worked to spread the word that May 22 is the state's primary runoff election.

At stake are a number of races, including the Republican Party pick for Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector, nominees for both parties to represent the 6th Congressional District and the Democratic Party's nominee for governor.

But some worry that Texans won't head to the polls.

"There is clearly a bit of political fatigue," said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at TCU. "This is the third time Texans have been asked to vote in three months and, unless one is a political junkie, that stretches tolerance for politics."

Even so, he and others say it's more important than ever for voters to weigh in on the races on the ballot.

This, he said, "is how we choose the people who make decisions about our values, about our tax dollars, and about our public services.

"So we should all be invested in the process because if we don’t voice our views through voting, we leave it to others — often folks with different values and different priorities than we have — to choose who makes those decisions."

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday on Election Day.

Here's a look at the races on the Republican and Democratic primary runoff ballots in Tarrant County.

Republican primary runoff: 6th Congressional District, Ron Wright, J.K. "Jake" Ellzey; 342nd District Judge, Pat Gallagher, Kimberly Fitzpatrick; Probate Court No. 1: Patricia Cole, Chris Ponder; County Tax Assessor-Collector, Mike Snyder, Wendy Burgess; Justice of the Peace Precinct 4, Christopher "Chris" Gregory, Jacquelyn Wright; and Justice of the Peace Precinct 6, Jason Charbonnet, Chris Garcia.

Democratic primary runoff: 6th Congressional District, Jana Lynne Sanchez, Ruby Faye Woolridge; 25th Congressional District, Chris Perri, Julie Oliver; Governor, Andrew White, Lupe Valdez; and Justice of the Peace Precinct 7, Frieda Porter, Kenneth D. Sanders.

Make your choice

In the March 6 primary, just about 2.5 million of the state's more than 15.2 million registered voters cast ballots.

Republicans outnumbered Democrats, despite hopes for a "blue wave," logging 1.5 million of those votes.

In the runoff, which locally will determine nearly a dozen unsettled races from that day, many fear turnout will be just a fraction of what it was in March.

"I expect very few people will turn out to vote in the runoffs, with combined statewide Democratic and Republican turnout being somewhere between 900 thousand and 1.1 million," said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston. "The average drop-off from the March primaries will be around 55 to 65 percent."

One reason is that only the Democratic Party has a statewide runoff to determine the party's gubernatorial nominee. While there are Republican races on ballots across the state, the lack of a statewide runoff may drop GOP turnout.

"Where turnout will be relatively higher than the state average is in a handful of high profile and competitive contests where the runoff victor has a realistic possibility of victory in November," Jones said. "In the DFW metro area, this would include the Republican runoffs in CD-6 in Tarrant, Ellis and Navarro counties (and) the County Tax Assessor-Collector race in Tarrant County."

If the GOP candidates chosen this month win in November, anyone who doesn't vote in the primary runoff "will effectively be letting the small fraction of Tarrant County residents who do turn out choose who will represent them in Congress next year as well as who their Tax Assessor-Collector will be," he said.

'Make a difference'

Past races have shown how important it is to get out the vote, particularly in a runoff election.

Take the 2012 race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate.

It was an odd election year, when the primary was pushed to May and the runoff to July because of a legal battle over redistricting maps.

Then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst emerged from a crowded primary race as the top vote getter, with 44 percent. But since he didn't reach the 50 percent threshold, he went to a runoff with the second-most vote getter, then-Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who drew 34 percent of the vote.

In the July runoff, about 6 percent of the state's more than 13 million eligible voters cast ballots.

Cruz won by 151,686 votes and went on to win the general election handily, as the Republican candidate in such a red state was expected to do.

The Tea Party darling has been making headlines ever since, riling his fellow senators, running for president in 2016 and potentially making another White House bid in 2020.

Now, with another small crowd expected to turn out for a runoff election, every vote may have a big impact in these races.

"Only about a sixth of Texas voters voted in the regular primary, and vote totals will be significantly lower than that in the runoffs," Riddlesperger said. "That means that successful candidates get their voters out to the polls and average voters have a higher proportional chance to make a difference in which candidate wins."

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Election Information

Election officials recommend that voters check on their polling places before heading out to vote because several polling places for the runoff will be different from the March 6 primary election.

In fact, there are 27 polling sites where ballots from only one party will be available. And changes in polling sites are expected to affect about 127,000 local voters on Tuesday, county officials predict.

Election officials also suggest that people review sample ballots online before heading to the polls as well. Information about both can be found online at access.tarrantcounty.com/en/elections.html.

Poll workers say it's not required for Texans to bring their voter registration cards to vote, but it is helpful. And voters must bring a photo ID with them to the polls.

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, and can’t get one before voting, may show another form of identification and fill out a "reasonable impediment declaration."

Anyone with questions about the election should call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683. Voters statewide may call the Secretary of State’s Office at 1-800-252-VOTE.

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