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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Early voting begins today
Monday, June 29, 2020 by Jo Clifton
Early voting starts today throughout Texas in runoffs from the March primaries as well as some special elections. Polls will be open every day through July 10 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., except for July 3 and 4. Election day is July 14 because Gov. Greg Abbott postponed runoffs previously scheduled for May in an attempt to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Many polling locations where early voters have previously voted are not available for this election because of the difficulty of guaranteeing social distancing. However, there are 20 early voting sites, including Austin City Hall, the Carver Branch Library, the Ben Hur Shrine Center, Travis High School, and the Bee Cave City Hall.
In Travis County and parts of Bastrop County, voters will be choosing a new state senator for District 14 because former Sen. Kirk Watson stepped down to take an academic position. Three of the six candidates in this race are well known: former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, both Democrats; and former Council Member Don Zimmerman, a Republican. Also running for the seat are Republican Waller Thomas Burns II, independent Jeff Ridgeway and Libertarian Pat Dixon. Democrats will also be choosing between Royce West and MJ Hegar to appear on the November ballot against Republican Sen. John Cornyn.
Of more interest locally is the heated contest between District Attorney Margaret Moore and challenger José Garza, and the race for County Attorney between Assistant County Attorney Laurie Eiserloh and Council Member Delia Garza. Another important race for Travis County is the contest for County Commissioner Precinct 3 between Valinda Bolton and Ann Howard. Voters must also decide between Dimple Malhotra, the current judge in County Court at Law No. 4, and her challenger Margaret Chen Kercher. Two congressional races feature runoffs on the Democratic side – the race between Mike Siegel and Pritesh Gandhi, who are vying for the opportunity to run against District 10 Rep. Michael McCaul in November, and the District 17 congressional race between Rick Kennedy and David Jaramillo. The winner of that runoff will face either Pete Sessions or Renee Swann, who are in a runoff for the Republican nomination. Democrats will also choose between Chrysta Castañeda and Roberto Alonzo as their candidate for an open position on the Railroad Commission. Republicans who live in House District 47 will have an opportunity to choose Justin Berry and Jennifer Fleck. There is also a runoff between Lani Popp and Robert Morrow for nomination as the Republican candidate for State Board of Education District 5. Most Republicans have rallied around Popp. See a ballot at the Travis County Clerk’s website.
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