WASHINGTON (AP) — Topping the list of notable races in Tuesday’s election in Texas are races for mayor of Houston and Uvalde, as well as 14 proposed changes to the state constitution.
Residents of Uvalde will elect a new mayor for the first time since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in May 2022. One of the candidates is Kimberly Mata-Rubio, a former news reporter whose daughter was killed in the shooting. Former Uvalde Mayor Cody Smith is also running, as is elementary school teacher Veronica Martinez.
In Houston, 17 candidates are vying to replace term-limited Mayor Sylvester Turner. Among them are longtime U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. John Whitmire, both Democrats. Many of the candidates met at a televised debate last month. More recently, Jackson Lee expressed regret over an audio recording purported to be her berating staff members. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote on Tuesday, the top two finishers advance to a runoff.
On the statewide ballot are 14 proposed amendments to the state constitution. Among the proposals being considered are limits on farming regulations, tax breaks for child care centers, expanding high-speed internet, increasing benefits for retired teachers, setting a retirement age for state judges and funding for parks, water projects and electricity plants.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
The general election in Texas is on Tuesday. Polls close at 7 p.m. local time. Most of Texas is in the Central time zone, but a small portion of west Texas is located in the Mountain time zone. Thus, polls in most of the state close at 8 p.m. ET, while polls in the rest of the state close at 9 p.m. ET.
WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT?
The Associated Press will provide vote coverage and winner calls for 17 races in Texas. This includes mayoral races in Houston and Uvalde, a state House special election and 14 statewide ballot measures.
WHO GETS TO VOTE?
All registered voters are eligible to participate in the general election.
Historically, off-year elections for statewide ballot measures, special elections and local offices tend to be relatively low-turnout events. In a competitive contest, particularly in a small town such as Uvalde or a state House special election, the margin between the first- and second-place candidates may be a relatively small number of votes. This may slow the race-calling process as a handful of absentee, provisional or other untallied ballots could play a decisive role in determining the result.
In races subject to a runoff, determining whether a candidate has cleared the required majority vote threshold could delay reporting a final winner. If the leading candidate hovers near the 50% mark, the race might not be called until additional votes are counted. The AP will either call winners in races in which a candidate has clearly received more than 50% of the vote or declare that no candidate has received a majority and that the race will advance to a runoff.
The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates (or the trailing ballot measure option) to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.
Texas has automatic recounts only in the case of a tie vote. The state, however, has liberal laws on candidate-requested recounts. A losing candidate can request and pay for a recount if the margin between the top candidates is less than 10% of the leader’s vote total. Losing candidates can also request recounts in any race with fewer than 1,000 total votes.
The AP may declare a winner in a race that is eligible for a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.
WHAT DO TURNOUT AND THE ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
As of January, Texas had 17.5 million voters registered. Texas does not register voters by party.
Turnout was 9% of registered voters in the 2021 general election on statewide ballot measures. That was down slightly from the turnout for the 2019 ballot measure general election, which was 12% of registered voters. In comparison, turnout for the 2022 general election for governor was 46% of registered voters.
As of the end of October, a total of 712,347 voters had cast ballots before Election Day. Of these, 94% were cast early in person, while the remaining 6% were cast by mail.
In the 2021 statewide ballot measure general election, 46% of total votes were cast before Election Day. That was up from 39% in the 2019 ballot measure election.
HOW LONG DOES VOTE COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
In the 2022 general election, the AP first reported results at 8 p.m. ET just as polls closed in the Central time zone. By 11:52 the next morning, 99.6% of all votes had been counted.
Robert Yoon, The Associated Press