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Voting in a Primary Election

Polling place etiquette

Published May 28, 2012 @ 9:27 a.m.

A Primary Election is the process in which a political party selects its candidates for the General Election in November.

The Primary Elections in Texas are held by the Democratic and Republican Parties.  The voter must choose one party's election in which to cast a ballot.  Both Garza County parties contract with the county clerk to conduct a joint election therefore sharing locations, personnel and resources but offering separate party ballots. 

Are you a Democrat or a Republican?  According to the Texas Election Code, you become affiliated with a party when you participate in a party activity, such as voting in a primary election or attending a precinct or county convention. Another way to be affiliated with a party is by taking an oath of affiliation.

In Texas, a party affiliation expires at the end of the voting year.  A person who is affiliated with a political party is ineligible to become affiliated with another political party during the same voting year.  That means you can only participate in activities of the party in which you are affiliated.  If there is a run-off election, you can vote in your affiliated party and not in the other party's election.

A Primary run-off election may occur if there are more than three candidates in the same contest (or race) on the Primary ballot.  To win the Primary Election, one of the candidates must receive one vote more than 50% of the votes cast in that contest.  If more that 50% is not achieved, there will be a run-off in that race.  There are contests on both the Republican and Democratic ballots that could result in a run-off election which is scheduled for July 31.   

If you did not vote early or on Election Day, May 29, and are a registered voter, you may vote in either parties' run-off election in July.

Casting your ballot:  After choosing which parties' ballot you wish to vote, read the instructions on the ballot and those in the voting booth.  Garza County uses a paper optical scan ballot.  The votes are counted by a tabulator similar to what many know as a scantron system.  Therefore, it is important for a voter to use the provided black ink pen or the voter assist terminal (voting machine) to mark the ballot.  Only one candidate or choice can be chosen in each race or referendum. 

As directed on the ballot, the voter must darken the oval next to the voter's choice.  The voting machine will do this for you if you choose to use it.  If you use the provided pen, an inadvertent marking with-in an oval may result in an unintended vote or an over vote in a contest.  If that happens, you may exchange the ballot for a new one.  That's called "spoiling" a ballot according to the election code.

Click here to get more info about the Garza County's voting machine, the AutoMARK.

What you can't do in the polling place:  Use your mobile phone or any electronic device, campaign for a candidate or a cause, talk about candidates or issues, visit with others, loiter, or help someone else vote without taking the assistance oath, just to name a few things you can't do in the the polling place.

Click here to find out more about Tuesday's Primary Elections.

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