AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Amarillo residents got the chance to participate in Tuesday’s Primary Election, casting their vote for various federal, state and local races.
Tuesday’s results saw Texas Gov. Greg Abbott winning the Republican gubernatorial primary, ultimately facing the Democratic primary winner Beto O’Rourke in the November general election. Midland Republican Kevin Sparks also won the Republican primary for the District 31 State Senate race, with Sparks ultimately taking the position without any challengers.
MyHighPlains.com spoke with election officials from both Potter and Randall counties about Tuesday’s results and how it will impact elections later this year.
March Primary Turnout
Melynn Huntley, the Potter County Elections Administrator, told MyHighPlains.com that Tuesday’s Election Day totals were “totally out of character” for the county. According to previous reports, 4,251 Potter County residents were reported as individuals who voted early.
“We’ve been seeing anywhere from half to two-thirds of the people vote early,” Huntley said. “So, Election Day is kind of just been a mop-up day. Yesterday, we exceeded our early voting numbers by a good number, a relatively good number. The only thing that I can attribute that to is we finally had a pretty day.”
According to unofficial results, 9,495 people voted in Potter County of the 57,007 registered voters, accounting for around 16.66% overall turnout. Here’s how the turnout was for each voting location in Potter County:
- Amarillo Auto Supply and Off Road – 92
- Bushland Fire Station No. 1 – 328
- Casey Carpet One – 663
- Chaparral Hills Church – 319
- Cornerstone Outreach – 244
- Diversity Church (formerly Lighthouse Baptist Church) – 257
- Don Harrington Discovery Center – 167
- Highland Park ISD Administration Building – 75
- Hillside Christian Church NW – 901
- Kids, Inc.- 199
- Pride Home Center – 233
- Santa Fe Building – 476
- Trinity Baptist Church – 277
- United Citizens Forum – 101
- Valle de Oro Fire Station – 48
- Wesley Community Center – 56
Shannon Lackey, the Randall County Elections Administrator, said that Election Day voting was a little more normal. According to previous reports, 9,836 Randall County residents were reported as individuals who voted early.
“Actually, just on a whim, my husband said to me the night before, how many people do you think will vote on Election Day? I said ‘oh, I don’t know, 7,000?’” Lackey said. “Well, we got over 8,000. That’s just based off of nothing more than a gut feeling. So, we did get a little bit more than what I had originally anticipated.”
According to unofficial results, 19,798 people voted in Potter County of the 93,828 registered voters, accounting for around 21.1% overall turnout. Here’s how the turnout was for each voting location in Randall County:
- Arena of Life Church – 337
- Comanche Trail Church of Christ – 633
- Randall County Justice Center – 929
- Ascension Academy – 83
- Southwest Church of Christ – 273
- Redeemer Christian Church – 515
- Southwest Branch Library – 1,252
- Freedom Fellowship Church – 240
- Journey Church – 105
- Arden Road Baptist – 729
- Central Baptist Church – 305
- Oasis Southwest Baptist Church – 277
- Randall County Annex – 1,563
- The Summit – 376
- Coulter Road Baptist Church – 444
- Texas Panhandle War Memorial Center – 256
After the results came in throughout the region and throughout the state, numerous races in Tuesday’s primary election resulted in a runoff. According to reports from MyHighPlains.com, this included the Republican District Judge for the 47th Judicial District race, numerous Randall County Commissioners races as well as the Democratic primary race for the precinct four spot on the Potter County Commissioners’ Court.
Lackey said a candidate must win by 50% to win a race outright in a primary. If a candidate does not receive 50% of the vote, a runoff between the two top vote-getters will be triggered. Officials said that voters are eligible to vote in the runoff for whatever primary they initially voted in. If a voter did not participate in the first primary, they can pick which one to participate in.
Especially with the Randall County Commissioners’ Court races, Lackey said there was the potential for a runoff election.
“Anytime you have more than two candidates, there’s always that possibility,” she said.
“Everyone campaigned with all that they had. I mean, you saw the signs all over the county. Everyone was out in full force campaigning. So, I do believe that all of these candidates did a really good job of getting their names out there. So, it doesn’t surprise me that we have a runoff.”
Huntley said runoffs at the state level are more common than runoffs for local races.
“As long as I’ve been here, we’ve had a runoff in May for something. Usually, it’s a state race,” she said. “It’s a little bit unusual to have some of these local races, but we had some good candidates. They were close so we’re not surprised to be having a runoff. You just never know who it’s going to be.”
Even with some close races, Huntley said there have been no challenges. This comes after the Potter County Republican Party requested that the Republican Primary be conducted with hand-marked, hand-counted ballots instead of with electronic machines.
“I mean, yesterday went just smooth as it always does, because we have a system in place that works,” she said. “We didn’t have any issues with that.”
The runoff is scheduled for May 24. This comes after a special election that Potter and Randall counties will host on May 7, which gives voters the opportunity to vote on two state constitutional amendments, the Amarillo Independent School District’s bond proposals as well as a seat on the Canyon ISD Board of Trustees.
Because the elections are so close together, it may cause some confusion for mail-in voters, Lackey said.
“We had a lot of new rules implemented for this election and it created a lot of confusion,” she said. “We’re actually going to be mailing them ballots for the constitutional amendment election, then the special elections. Those will go out in mid-March. Well, within another two or three weeks, we’re going to be mailing them their runoff election (ballot). So, they’re going to need to keep those ballots straight. Make sure they get them back in the proper envelopes and make sure that they put their ID on the back of that envelope before they mail it.”
For the upcoming elections, Lackey encouraged individuals to call their local elections official if they have any questions about the ballot, making sure the right steps are being taken to make the ballot count.
“I think the main thing that I can’t stress enough is not just for Randall County voters, for Potter County, for Swisher, for Deaf Smith, Gray County; call your local election officials,” Lackey said.
“We’re the ones that you’ll be dealing with directly. Build that relationship. Election officials, we do elections. We don’t do politics.”
For more information about the upcoming elections, visit the Potter County Election Administrator’s Office website or the Randall County Election Administrator’s Office website.