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Brazos County elections administrator reports strong turnout for local runoffs

Brazos County elections administrator reports strong turnout for local runoffs

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Brazos County Elections Administrator Trudy Hancock said Thursday evening that 2,160 ballots have thus far been cast in advance of the July 14 runoff elections.

Hancock said 1,672 ballots have been cast in the Republican election, and 488 votes have been submitted in the Democratic runoff.

“People are coming out a lot better than I thought. With runoffs there is often a smaller turnout,” Hancock said. She hypothesized that high interest in the Precinct 1 Brazos County commissioner race between incumbent Steve Aldrich and College Station school board president Michael Schaefer may be driving up turnout.

Aldrich, who was elected to the post in 2016, received 41.57% of the vote on March 3, while Schaefer received 35.07%. A third candidate, Mike Ruesink, received 23.37% of the vote.

Hancock said that some voters have been surprised to learn this week that masks and face coverings are strongly encouraged but, according to state election code, cannot be required. The Texas Tribune reported Friday that Gov. Greg Abbott’s new statewide mask mandate exempts voting locations. 

In addition, Hancock said that while most election workers are wearing masks, “one or two” are not, “for whatever reason.”

“I want to remind people that if a voter sees a maskless election worker and is uncomfortable, he or she always can wait for the next available check-in station,” Hancock said.

She said that a number of other health safety protocols are in place, including hand sanitizer and a system in which voters use the eraser end of a provided pencil to press the buttons on the electronic voting machines.

Voters also place their own ID on the scanner and take their own receipt from the printer, Hancock said.

Both major parties have runoff elections for the race to replace the retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores in U.S. House District 17, which includes Bryan-College Station, Waco and some parts of the Austin metro area. The two Democratic candidates for District 17 are Marine veteran David Jaramillo of Waco and project manager Rick Kennedy of Pflugerville; the two Republicans in the runoff are former Dallas-area U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions and Brazos Eye Surgery owner Renee Swann of Waco.

Those participating in the Democratic runoff also will be able to weigh in on the U.S. Senate and Railroad Commissioner races.

Residents must vote in the same party’s primary in which they participated for the March election. Voters can cast early ballots Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The runoff election is July 14.

Early voting is available at the Brazos County Administration Building, Arena Hall, Galilee Baptist Church, the College Station Utilities Meeting & Training Facility, and the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M.

On July 14, ballots may be cast at four of those five locations (Galilee Baptist is not on the Election Day list) or at the Brazos Center, College Station City Hall, First Baptist Church of Bryan, Wellborn Community Center, or Fellowship Freewill Baptist Church in Bryan.

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