Thursday last day to register to vote in May

EAST TEXAS (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Residents have until Thursday to register to vote in the May 11 elections. Early voting will run April 29 to May 7.

May elections include races and local options within cities and school districts, with races for school board trustees in Winona, Troup and Lindale, the legalization of beer and wine sales in Whitehouse and a $160.5 million bond proposal for Tyler ISD.

Tyler’s City Council election was canceled because the positions were uncontested in each race.

Smith County Elections Administrator Karen Nelson said May elections are typically “much slower,” with voter registration and participation because they do not involve state or national races.

To register to vote, residents must give their Smith County address and their driver’s license number or last four digits of their Social Security number, Mrs. Nelson said.

The information goes to the state and is cross-referenced by the Department of Public Safety and Social Security Office.

The Elections Office recently received about 200 mail ballot requests from residents 65 or older. The mail ballot applications were circulated to registered voters by Tyler Proud, which has voiced support for passage of the Tyler ISD bond proposal.

The election office has been quiet otherwise, Mrs. Nelson said, but May elections have historically lower turnouts than November elections.

About 85,000 votes were cast in the November election. The county has 120,174 registered voters. May elections typically draw a fraction of voters compared to November elections, depending on how many contested races and controversial items are on ballots, Mrs. Nelson said.

Residents can register to vote at the Smith County Elections Office, 302 E. Ferguson St., in Tyler.

For Texans, voting early has become the preferred way to vote, according to, a website aimed to inform voters about state election laws.

Texas continues to rank among the worst in the nation in voter turnout (50th in 2010 and 47th in 2012) but the state has experienced a shift from Election Day voting to early voting over the past 20 years. The number of registered voters who cast early ballots more than doubled in the last decade.

Mrs. Nelson said the convenience of early voting makes it a good option for voters. Early voters have 12 days to cast ballots rather than one. Typically, voters also can access any of five early voting locations to cast ballots rather than a specific voting precinct. During the May election, voters will have access to seven early voting locations


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