DALLAS - It’s Election Day. While many people in North Texas voted early to avoid the crowds, officials are still expecting a big turnout and long lines today as well. This midterm election will decide the control of the U.S. Congress.
Some people are feeling a sense of relief that this day is finally here. The campaigning has been intense. But voters are also energized. More than twice as many people voted early in this election than in the last midterm in 2014. That means there are plenty of new voters engaged in the process.
AT THE POLLS
“We have had instances with early voting that have alerted ups that we have some issues with aggressive voters, overly aggressive poll watchers. We are geared up for any kind of incidents the judges absolutely cannot handle,” Dallas County Elections supervisor Toni Pippins-Poole said.
Voters should also remember to bring a valid form of a photo ID to the polling place. For anyone new to the process, there will be no shortage of election workers to answer questions.
The polls in Texas are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Gov. Greg Abbott has a large lead in the polls but said he will not take votes for granted. He spent time calling people across the state from Austin on Monday.
Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez did the same thing from San Antonio. Polls have Abbott with a double-digit lead over Valdez, who is the former Dallas County sheriff.
Both candidates will be in Austin to watch the returns.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick does not face much of a challenge from Democrat Mike Collier. The job controls the agenda in the Republican-dominated State Senate.
Patrick focused much of his campaign on traditional conservative issues like border security and reducing property taxes. Collier is calling for more spending on public education.
Libertarian Kerry Douglas McKennon is also on the ballot.
Texas Democrats are hoping to end a nearly 25-year drought in winning a statewide office but the odds are not in their favor. The latest polls show incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz slightly ahead of the challenger, El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke.
O’Rourke is still confident there could be an upset. At a rally in El Paso Monday night, he said he’s encouraged by the record early voting numbers that include a 500 percent increase in young voters ages 18 to 29.
He spoke about paying teachers a living wage, improving access to healthcare and having a real conversation about immigration. He said there’s no better place to have that discussion than in El Paso.
Cruz held his final four rallies in the Houston area. He told the crowd he supports tax cuts and expanding gun rights. He also talked about the booming Texas economy and border security. He supports building a wall, adding infrared technology and tripling the size of the border patrol.
“At the end of the day, it ain’t complicated. You cut taxes, simplify the tax code. You repeal job-killing regulation and small businesses grow and prosper and the state of Texas does great,” he said.
The candidates in the race for Dallas’ congressional District 32 are in a dead heat, according to the latest polls. The district has been electing Republican Pete Sessions since 2002. He’s now in the fight of his career against Democrat Colin Allred, an attorney.
Both candidates spent time at phone banks encouraging people to get out and vote. They have also both focused on healthcare. Allred said he wants to protect the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicaid. Sessions argues that a government-run system would leave no room for free enterprise healthcare.
There will be at least three new members of Congress from North Texas as voters fill seats left open by retiring members of the House.
In District 3 which covers primarily Collin County, voters will choose between Republican State Sen. Van Taylor and Democratic nominee Lorie Burch, a lawyer. Libertarian Christopher J. Claytor is also an option. They are running for the seat currently held by Republican Sam Johnson, who is retiring after 27 years in Congress.
In District 5 which covers parts of Dallas County and runs into East Texas, voters are choosing between Republican State Rep. Lance Gooden and Democrat Dan Wood, a lawyer. The seat is currently held by Republican Jeb Hensarling, who is retiring.
And in District 6 which covers parts of Arlington and all of Ellis and Navarro counties, voters are choosing from longtime Republican Tarrant County tax assessor Ron Wright and Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez, a corporate communications specialist. Libertarian Jason Allen Harber is also on the ballot. The seat is currently held by Joe Barton, who did not run for re-election following the release of an embarrassing naked photo sent to a former girlfriend.
Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton is running for re-election despite being under indictment on securities fraud charges. He faces Democrat Justin Nelson, a law professor.
Paxton is touting his record, particularly in fighting human trafficking. Nelson is blasting Paxton’s legal problems and says he’ll serve as a check on power in Austin.
Dallas attorney Michael Ray Harris is the Libertarian candidate.
DALLAS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
The Dallas County District Attorney’s race is competitive. Republican Faith Johnson and Democrat John Cruezot are former judges. Both are well known and both are African American.
Johnson was sworn in as the DA in January 2017 after being appointed to the job by Gov. Abbott. She is a Republican in a county that is increasingly blue.
SCHOOL TAX RATIFICATION
The Dallas Independent School District is one of the districts holding a tax ratification election. The tax increase of 13 cents per $100 of valuation would generate $126 million a year in revenue.
The district said the hike is needed because it now has to send money to the state as part of the Robin Hood school finance plan.
Richardson ISD is asking for a similar tax hike. The Frisco ISD has a tax ratification election that would actually reduce its overall tax rate while increasing revenue.
There are many other races on the ballot as well, including city council races in more than a dozen cities.
In Dallas, 13 candidates are running to replace Dwaine Caraway, who resigned after pleading guilty to bribery charges.
Voters in Arlington will decide whether to impose term limits on the mayor and city council. If approved, it would force five council members out within the next few years.
There are also contested races for mayor in The Colony and Lavon.
Several cities have bond issues on the ballot. They are asking permission to borrow money for things like parks and streets. Others are for public safety. The issues are on the ballot in Duncanville, Arlington, Pilot Point, Keller and Rhome.
Voters in Princeton, Mineral Wells and Aurora will vote on the sale of alcohol.
The polls are open for one of the most competitive midterm contests in recent memory. There are plenty of races statewide and locally attracting attention and that will likely be decided by only a few votes.
If you need help, especially on the issues and candidates further down on the ballot, check out the FOX 4 Voter Guide. It’s a look at some of the most notable and most competitive contests.
RACE RESULTS & CONTINUED COVERAGE
Again, the polls close at 7 p.m. FOX 4 will begin posting results on FOX4News.com and the FOX 4 app as soon as they begin to come in.
In-depth coverage starts at FOX 4 News at 9 p.m.