Early voting begins for March 4 Primary
By LPR Staff
Early voting began this week for the March 4, 2008 Primary Election.
Voters who prefer not to visit the polls on Election Day have two options available to avoid searching for polling locations and long lines at the polls. Caldwell County votes can either choose to vote early at one of the county”s two early voting locat
ions, or they can file an application to vote by mail.
Voters over the age of 65, the disabled or those who will be outside the county during early voting hours and on Election Day may choose to cast a ballot by mail, according to Texas Secretary of State Phil Wilson. Those who wish to do so must file applications with Caldwell County”s election official, Tax Assessor-Collector Mary Vicky Gonzales. Applications can be mailed to Gonzales at 100 E. Market St., Lockhart, Texas 78644, and must be received by Feb. 26, 2008. For additional information of applying for a ballot by mail, contact Gonzales” office at (512) 398-1830.
Voters who wish to vote early in person this year have two options for locations, and a variety of times available to cast their votes.
Early polling will be held at the Caldwell County Tax Office (100 E. Market) in Lockhart and at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation (301 S. Walnut) in Luling. Any Caldwell County voter may cast an early ballot at either location.
In Lockhart, polls will be open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. until Feb. 22, and from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. between Feb. 25 and Feb. 29. The Caldwell County Tax Office will also be open for weekend voting on Feb. 23 -24, from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Luling hours are slightly different from Lockhart, in that voters may only vote Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
On the local level, two races will effectively be decided by the Primary Election.
Incumbent Constables in Precinct 1 and Precinct 2 are facing challenges from within their party, as Fernando “Fred” Pruneda has challenged Victor “Smitty” Terrell and W. Neal Rodgers will challenge Richard Callihan in Precinct 1 and Precinct 2 respectively. Each of the four is asking Caldwell County Democrats for their nomination, but the Republican Party has offered no challenger for either seat in November.
Nationally, the Texas is in the spotlight, along with Ohio. Both states will hold primary elections on March 4, and the results of the elections could swing the momentum of national campaigns, particularly on the Democratic ticket.
On the GOP side, although Mike Huckabee has committed to stay in the race until the end, he has little hope of gaining enough delegate support at this stage to pose a challenge to frontrunner John McCain. The March 4 Primaries have the potential to award McCain 265 of the 273 delegates he needs to secure his party”s nomination.
Texas is a Republican “winner take all” state, meaning the candidate who wins the support of the bulk of Texas voters will win the state”s 140 Republican delegates. However, a rule within the Texas Republican Party could split the delegates in some Congressional districts.
Experts expect Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has currently won 16 delegates nationwide and stands virtually no chance of earning the party”s nomination, to activate that rule, at least in some Central Texas districts. A Republican who wins a district by plurality, rather than majority, must split the delegates in that district with the runner-up.
Though sharing delegates may not make a difference in McCain”s campaign, some experts believe it is a strong possibility, based on Paul”s strong grass-roots support system in Central Texas.
In the Democratic Primary, Texas is a critical state, because it holds enough delegates to swing the race. Texas” 228 Democratic delegates are awarded on a percentage basis, meaning any delegate who earns more than 15 percent of the vote will have an equal percentage of delegates awarded.
Hillary Clinton, who has been falling behind to Barak Obama, could turn the race around and take the lead by winning 64 percent of Texas” Democrat voters.
Check next week”s Post-Register for March 4 polling locations and sample ballots.