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Early voters flock to area school races

By Richard Yeakley
May 8, 2013 at 11 p.m.

Intense campaigns for and against multi-million dollar <a href="">school bond issues</a> drew the heaviest early voter turnouts in Northeast Texas, while municipal elections that had sluggish starts showed signs of heightened interest the final two days of early voting.

Early voting turnout in the Spring Hill school district doubled early voting turnouts from years past.

District spokeswoman Cathy Reed said 513 votes were cast as of the end of Tuesday for two contested races that have divided the school district and drawn thousands of dollars in contributions for campaign advertising.

By comparison, in the May 2012 election for board positions, 275 votes were cast in early voting, Reed said.

A p<a href="">roposed bond measure</a> for a new $19.8 million elementary school for Sabine ISD also brought out large numbers of early voters.

An administration spokeswoman said a total of 1,159 ballots were cast in early voting.

During the district's last bond election in 2009, 503 voters cast ballots. In that election, a total of 1,711 votes were cast.

<a href="">Campaign expense reports</a> filed by both sides of the Sabine ISD bond indicate more than $10,000 has poured into the election.

Kathie Wittner, the Rusk County election administrator, said a combination of a <a href="">bond election</a> for Henderson ISD voters and a tax increase proposed by the Rusk County Emergency Services District brought out an average number of early voters.

Wittner said as of the end of early voting, Henderson voters had cast 1,693 votes. Because the emergency services district has never proposed a tax increase, there is not a similar election to which to compare turnout.

Municipal elections across the region saw a slower, while still average, turnout.

Daniel Teed, election administrator for Harrison County, reported 236 Hallsville residents cast votes during early voting to decide a two-way mayoral race and a five-way race for two council spots.

The average votes cast in the past four years in Hallsville elections is 257.

Deborah Dane, Kilgore city clerk, said early voters cast 579 ballots to help decide a <a href="">Kilgore ISD school board</a> election, a Kilgore College board of trustees election and a <a href="">race for Kilgore's mayor</a>.

While 1,759 Longview voters cast their votes to help decide three propositions before Saturday, the number trailed in comparison to about 4,000 early votes cast when an identical measure to Longview's Proposition 1 was voted down in 2007.

In Gladewater, where <a href="">Mark Carpenter and Elijah "Sonny" Anderson</a> are racing to fill a vacated Place 5 council seat, 228 voters have made their choice.

In Gilmer, where <a href="">Steve Dean is challenging</a> four-term incumbent R.D. "Buck" Cross and voters are asked to decide on 15 charter changes, 113 residents cast a ballot during early voting.

The general election is Saturday with polls across the state open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For complete election results, see Sunday's News-Journal.



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