Surprise, surprise: Voter turnout slow for primaries

As if taking a cue from low turnouts in the recent municipal and school board elections, local election officials say voting in the political party primaries has been much slower than expected.Early voting in the Republican and Democratic primaries got under way Monday.“We had 81 people come in on Monday and 61 on Tuesday. Things were moving just as slow on Wednesday,” Bloom said. “This is a lot slower than we were expecting.”Bloom said despite the lack of voters, the process has gone well.“We haven't had any problems with the equipment or the voting machine programming,” Bloom said. “Things are moving along very slowly but smoothly. The biggest problem we have right now is there just not being enough for our election workers to do.”Bloom looks for voting totals to improve soon.“Our hope is for things to pick up by the end of this week or the beginning of next week,” Bloom said. “There's just a lot going on right now. We just finished the municipal elections this past weekend, plus a lot of parents are busy with graduation and other school functions. I'm just hoping we get a good turnout so we can avoid any last-minute rush.”Early voting will continue weekdays, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. through May 25.“We'll also be offering extended hours Tuesday and Thursday, May 24, from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.,” Bloom said. “We do this to try to make early voting accessible to folks who can't get away from work between traditional work hours.”Seats up for election in the 2012 election include 118th Judicial District Attorney, currently held by Hardy Wilkerson; Howard County sheriff, currently held by Stan Parker; county attorney, held by Joshua Hamby; tax assessor collector, held by Kathy Sayles; Precinct 3 county commissioner, held by Jimmie Long; and Precinct 1 county commissioner, held by Emma Brown.Parker has drawn an opponent in local resident M.O. Horton. The two will face off on the Republican ticket, with the winner of the primary expected to go uncontested in the November election.Brown has drawn a trio of challengers — Howard County Jailer Larry Torres, former Big Spring Council member Oscar Garcia and Ed Ware, who has attempted to unseat the longtime commissioner previously.Brown will face Torres in the Democratic primary, while Garcia and Ware will have to compete for the Republican nomination for the seat. The winners will go head-to-head in November.Longtime Tax Collector and Assessor Kathy Sayles announced she will not be running for re-election. However, Diane Carter, an employee of tax collection office, will be running unopposed for the office on the Republican ticket.Also running unopposed are Long, Green and Wilkerson. All three are running on the Republican ticket.For more information, contact the Howard County Elections Administration at 432-264-2273.Contact Staff Writer Thomas Jenkins at 263-7331 ext. 232 or by e-mail at