Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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Early voting begins for late summer runoff races

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The seemingly never-ending Texas primary season is not quite, but almost, over. The Republican and Democratic runoffs are July 31, and early voting kicked off Monday.

Voter turnout figures for prior runoffs in Travis County alone have been as low as 1.5 percent, which was the figure in the 2006 Democratic runoff.

“This is the tail end of the long story about the scrunched up election calendar,” Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said.

Past election totals show about half of those who vote in a runoff cast their ballots early.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is vying to become the Republican U.S. Senate nominee, knows what he's up against.

“A lot of people are gone. A lot of people are focusing on their families and vacations,” he said. “So in a way, we’re interrupting them, but this is an important election.”

Both Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry cast their ballots early, first thing Monday. Dewhurst faces Ted Cruz, the Tea-Party backed candidate and former solicitor general who's leading in the latest Public Policy Poll.

The two have packed their schedules for the week ahead with stops planned around the state.

“Our polls have consistently shown that we’re ahead,” Dewhurst said. “But the issue is I think that this week voters are paying more attention.”

Unfortunately, records show voter turnout is lower than usual the second time around.

“Those folks will set the example and drive out the ones who are motivated to come out to vote,” DeBeauvoir said. “And that’s what the campaigns are trying to do, they’re trying to get their people back out to the polls.”

If you didn't vote in the primary, you're open to choose a Republican or Democratic ballot. Otherwise, you'll have to vote the same party as you did the first round.

Early voting ends Friday.

The Travis County Clerk’s office still needs 25 election judges for next Tuesday's runoff. Call (512) 238-VOTE if you can help out.

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