Early voting for runoff election ends today

The pace has quickened a bit as early voting for Tuesday's state runoff election draws to a close.Today is the final day for voters to cast early ballots for Tuesday's election, Howard County Election Administrator Saundra Bloom said.Bloom reports 227 people have cast early ballots in person and another 133 have requested mail-in ballots. She said 74 people voted Thursday, almost doubling the total of early ballots cast so far.Voters will pick their party's nominee in five state-wide races Tuesday.The Democratic ballot features only one contest, as voters will decide between Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough to be that party's nominee in the U.S. Senator race.Four Republican nominees will be selected:• In the U.S. Senate race, voters will decide between Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst.• Warren Chisum and Christi Craddick are vying for the GOP nomination for a spot on the state railroad commission.• Greg Parker and Barry Smitherman are seeking the Republican nomination to fill an unexpired term on the railroad commission• The GOP nod for the State Supreme Court, Place 4 seat will be decided between David Medina and John Devine.In a change from recent years, there will be only one polling place open during Tuesday's election — ballots will be cast in the East Room of Dorothy Garrett Colisuem on the Howard College campus, Bloom said.“Because of anticipated low turnout … a lot of smaller counties do their runoff elections that way,”she said about the change. “It's a way to save money and centralize our efforts.”Voting booths will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.People have until 5 p.m. today to cast their ballots early on the third floor of the Howard County Courthouse.For more information, contact Bloom's office at 264-2273.