Athens Review, Athens, Texas

August 19, 2013

Primary election coming

Date in question due to uncertainty of redistricting maps

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The 2014 Primary election season is approaching, but legal questions concerning redistricting maps have the March 4 date in question. 

The Texas Legislature, in response to federal court action, approved new redistricting maps during a special session in June. Barring court intervention, the new maps become state law in September.

County Democratic Chairman Marsha Head said she hopes the 2014 election doesn’t turn into a repeat of the 2012 voting, which was delayed by court battles over the way district lines were drawn.

“What I’m hearing from the state Democratic Party is that a delay is very possible,” Head said.

In 2012, the March Democratic and Republican primaries didn’t take place until the end of May, shoving the runoff elections into July. That meant candidates including Precinct 1 Henderson County Commissioner Scotty Thomas had a nine-month wait before learning if they would make it to the November general election.

Head said the delay was not only hard on the candidates, but harmful in other ways.

“We had several election workers quit last year and having it the day after Memorial Day kept people away from the polls,” Head said.

The May primary in 2012 only drew 9.75 percent in the county GOP primary.  The Democratic vote was 2.31 percent.

Head and County Republican Party chairman Betty Holland have each submitted their slates of election workers to Commissioners Court based on a March 4 primary date. Holland could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Head said she hopes final decisions can be made on the redistricting issue by Oct. 4 and Oct. 5. On those days, county chairpersons from both parties will meet with the Secretary of State’s Office to prepare for the busy road ahead.

“I hope we can have some clarification by then,” Head said.

The Texas Secretary of State lists the window for candidates to file for the primary runs from Nov. 9 to Dec. 9. Early voting is set to begin Feb. 18.

If any runoffs result from the primary balloting. they would be conducted on May 27.