Runoff vote is last till fall

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Tuesday’s election concludes primaries for each party

For the third time in three months, voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to wrap up runoffs from the March 4 primary in local and statewide races.

More than 10,000 voters have already turned out to cast ballots early, with local races headlined by the battle for district attorney between incumbent Paul Johnson and Lantana attorney Karen Alexander.

“It looks like the runoff races out there are bringing a few folks out, which is good to see,” said Frank Phillips, Denton County elections administrator.

Phillips said the fact that Memorial Day comes just one day before election day gives him reason for concern about possible turnout.

“Our hope would be people would be back in town and, if they haven’t voted already, they would vote Tuesday,” he said.

The state Legislature sets the election dates, which started with the March 4 primary and included the May 10 city and school elections. The runoff Tuesday will be the final election until the general election Nov. 4.

The local races are all Republican, including the district attorney’s race and runoffs for justices of the peace in Precinct 4 and Precinct 5. In Precinct 4, incumbent Justice of the Peace J.W. Hand is facing Harris Hughey. In Precinct 5, Cynthia Mitchell, who currently is the Denton County clerk, is facing district attorney investigator Mike Oglesby.

Several statewide GOP runoffs are also on the ballot. For Democrats, only statewide runoffs for U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner nominees are on the ballot.

Denton County Democratic Party Chairwoman Phyllis Wolper said party members have been making efforts to get people out to vote.

“Traditionally, runoff elections are very low turnout, especially when you only have a few races contested,” she said. “We certainly want all our Democratic supporters to make their best choice for the Senate as well as agriculture commissioner in the state of Texas.”

Democrats will have more than 20 voting locations to make it as convenient as possible for people who did not vote early, Wolper said.

Republican Party Chairwoman Dianne Edmondson said the runoff election has the potential to confuse people since it’s so close to the May 10 election. But party members and candidates have been working to encourage people to go out and vote.

“We haven’t done anything extraordinary this time around [like] we will in November,” Edmondson said.

However many people show up to vote, Phillips said they will find him and his election staff ready.

“We’re working all of this weekend to get ready for Tuesday, and we will be ready to go Tuesday morning,” Phillips said.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.

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