What you need to know ahead of the Texas primary

Texas and other states will host primary elections for state and federal offices on March 5. Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Josh Siatkowski | Staff Writer

Texas and the 14 other states that make up Super Tuesday will host primary elections for state and federal offices on March 5. Although Donald Trump leads Nikki Haley by 71 points in Texas, there are a number of reasons voters should still take the time to get informed and go out and vote.

The Texas primary ballot will be headlined by the three federal offices up for election: the president, one of Texas’ two U.S. senators and each district’s U.S. representative. For those in McLennan County, incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions will go up against Joseph Langone on the Republican side, while Mark Lorenzen is running uncontested in the Democratic primary.

There are also numerous other state and local offices whose party nominees will be decided on Tuesday. What most don’t realize, however, is that many of these races will essentially be over next week too.

On the Republican ballot for McLennan County, there are 16 state and local offices for which voters can select nominees. The Democratic ballot, however, has only 10. Four of these uncontested offices are for various district judges, while the other two are for the county tax assessor and sheriff.

Dr. Aric Dale Gooch, a lecturer in Baylor’s department of political science, said these uncontested offices are why primaries are so important.

“If there’s no one running in the Democratic Party, that means who wins isn’t determined by the general [election] in November,” Gooch said. “It’s now.”

So, for those in McLennan County who want to vote on positions like district judges or county sheriff, March 5 is not just a good time; it’s the only time.

Gooch also said he believed around a quarter of state legislature positions are not contested by one of the two major parties, which makes primary elections all the more important.

“That’s one of the reasons why becoming informed and being able to engage in these March elections is so important, especially at the state and local level,” Gooch said.

Republicans voting on Tuesday will also see a number of yes-or-no propositions on the bottom of their ballot. Gooch said these questions are not there to create new laws or policies but are just a way for the Republican Party of Texas to gather data on its members’ views.

Gooch said there are a number of ways to become informed. He said he recommends the ballotpedia page for Texas’ State Senate and Texas’ State House of Representatives. For other elections, Gooch said a simple online search of each candidate’s campaign website is the easiest way to find information.

As Tuesday approaches, elections administrator Jared Goldsmith provided some information on how Election Day will look and what to remember.

Goldsmith said there will be 46 voting centers across the county, all of which accept votes from any resident of McLennan County. Baylor’s Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center will be the most convenient voting center for those staying on campus.

Goldsmith also said to remember to bring an ID, as a Texas driver’s license or one of the other authorized IDs is necessary to vote.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Ballots will be filled out by hand. Voters in Texas do not need to be registered party members to vote in a party primary, but they may only vote in one party’s primary.

Election results can be found on the McLennan County website.

Josh Siatkowski is a freshman Business Fellow from Oklahoma City, with majors in Economics and Professional Writing and Rhetoric. Josh is in his first semester at the Lariat, and he's excited to find interesting and important stories to share with his fellow students. He is still undecided about his post-college plans.