Eleven days of early voting in the March 1 Republican and Democratic Texas primary elections opens Tuesday at 8 a.m. at 34 locations around the city, including a new polling site at the University of Texas at San Antonio that will make voting more convenient for students and others who live and work near the Main Campus on the city’s northwest side.
Click here for early voting poll locations and varying hours of operation on each of the early voting days. Here is the generic sample Republican ballot, and here is the generic sample Democratic ballot. To view the actual ballot you will see in the voting booth, based on your place of residence, click here and enter your home address, or click here and either enter your date of birth and your house number. All voters are required to show a photo ID and must be registered to vote. Registration for the primary elections closed Feb. 1
With voters choosing presidential favorites on both party ballots turnout is expected to surpass especially low turnout numbers throughout 2015, a year that saw a number of runoffs and special elections that left voters confused, fatigued or disengaged.
Democratic party voters will choose from eight different presidential primary candidates. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, listed first on the ballot, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, listed last, will be familiar names. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who dropped out of the race on Feb. 1 after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses, remains on the Texas ballot. Voters are unlikely to recognize any of the other five persons on to the ballot. None has run a credible campaign.
Republican voters face an even bigger ballot mess. There are 13 names are on the presidential primary ballot as well as an option to remain “uncommitted.” One of the 13 names, Elizabeth Gray, is a seemingly nonexistent candidate, an unfamiliar name in Texas political circles with no known record, campaign or website.
Adding greater confusion is the list of six Republicans who are no longer in the race, but whose names remain on the ballot. Many of them are fairly well know to voters from their participation in the nationally televised Republican presidential primary debates. Their presence on the ballot will undoubtedly confuse some voters and past supporters who are led to believe they are still in the race.
Candidates who have withdrawn include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
The race on the Bexar County Democratic ballot that will draw the most attention is the fight between incumbent Sen. José Menéndez and challenger and state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer for Senate District 26, the seat formerly held by Leticia Van de Putte until she stepped down to run unsuccessfully for San Antonio mayor. Menéndez bested Martinez Fischer in a special election that was open to voters of both parties. The March 1 contest is a rematch with Martinez Fischer testing whether he will fare better in a Democratic primary election.
Several Texas House races locally are contested, including races to replace retiring Reps. Joe Farias and Ruth Jones McClendon, and to fill the seat Martinez Fischer is vacating.
*Top image: Lions Field is covered with campaign signs in the lead up to the March 1 Primary election. Photo by Robert Rivard.