Elections Explained for inexperienced voters
By Alexandra Cannon, Staff Writer
Voting season is upon us, with the first election being the Primary Election on March 6. Though the deadline to register for that election passed on February 5, many more lie ahead, including the local elections for school board, city council and the hospital board, the primary runoff election and the general election.
While many of our readers are likely experienced voters, our younger audience may have questions and concerns about voter registration, what the elections are for and what to expect in the voting booth. Our county’s Election Administrator Jennifer Southard has some useful information young or new voters may find helpful. Regardless of how many elections you’ve voted in so far, it is always important to stay informed about what each candidate stands for and what issues you believe need more attention and change.
Getting registered to vote is a quick and painless process. If you get a voter registration card in the mail, you can fill it out and mail it back. If you don’t receive one in the mail, they are available in Southard’s office on the basement floor of Limestone County Courthouse here in Groesbeck. You just provide a driver’s license or social security number and jot down your name, address and confirm that you are a US citizen.
“You submit this to me and then I enter it into the state system and it'll run you basically through DPS and kind of cross check your driver's license or social security number. If you double register, that cancels your registration in any other county, if you get married or change your name, it pretty much picks up everybody.”
In order to vote in any election, you must be registered 30 days before the day of the election. Southard said that voter registration picks up 30-40 days before every election.
Government and Economics teacher Hollye Reynolds has been helping high school seniors get registered to vote when they turn 18 for the past eight years. Reynolds takes students who are of age to the courthouse to vote in primary and general elections, depending on how many students she has that are old enough to vote.
“I think voting is one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities that we have as citizens,” Reynolds said. “If I can educate the students to help them understand that, then I feel I've given them knowledge that they will use for the rest of their lives!”
Primary, Runoff and General
“I explained the primary election to a guy the other day like football playoffs. So you’ve got district, bi-district, playoffs,” Southard said. “You've got the primary which is district, the runoff which is bi-district, and November which is the championship. In the Primary, basically the Democrats put their candidates on one ballot. And people choose who they want to represent the Democrats. Republicans do the same thing. And then if it's close enough to cause a runoff, that's done on May 22nd. And then in November all the parties are put on one ballot so you have Republicans, Democrats, Green, Libertarian, and Independent write-ins.”
Sometimes, a runoff election isn’t necessary. In order for a candidate to win the primary election, they must have to have 50 percent of the vote plus one to win the election.
“So say you have 200 people vote altogether for precinct two between three candidates,” Southard said. “One of those candidates would actually have to get 100 votes (which is half) plus one, so they have to have 101 votes in order to win. It's not just a majority.”
If you didn’t get registered in time to vote in the primary election, you are still free to vote in the runoff and general elections if you get registered in time.
In the local election, you vote for the candidate you feel will best represent Groesbeck for positions including Mayor, three City Council Members, three GISD School Board members and three board positions the South Limestone Hospital District Board (Limestone Medical Center).
“When you get into the local elections, those are majority elections where whoever gets the highest wins it, and it’s the same thing for November. The primary is really the only plurality vote that we have in the state of Texas.”
For a full list of candidates running for the local positions, read Tom Hawkins’ story Candidate Filing on page _. This article is updated weekly with candidates who have filed to run for the positions available.
To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.