Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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November 4, 2013

Tuesday election attracts a moderate amount of early voters

CHEROKEE COUNTY — The modest early voting turnout for today's proposed Jacksonville ISD school expansion and statewide constitutional amendment elections is difficult to put into perspective, officials said Monday.

A total of 811 early voters cast ballot in the Jacksonville ISD election while 1,006 turned out for the state constitutional issue, voting records show.

But quantifying those numbers in terms of “good turnout” or “bad turnout?” Not that easy. Even when comparing it with other elections.

Even controversial, impassioned elections can result in only a moderate turnout.

For instance, in Jacksonville, a city with a population of 14,544 as of the 2010 census, the heated, high-profile May 11 mayoral election brought in 389 votes for Mayor Kenneth Melvin, 426 votes for challenger Rob Gowin and 147 votes for challenger William Igbokwe, voting records show.

Then, in the subsequent June 11 mayoral runoff election, only 586 voters cast ballots for Melvin and 510 for Gowin, according to records. Comparing the amount of voters to the actual population of Jacksonville doesn't seem to jibe with what was clearly a very visible election.

"Every election is entirely different," explained Dr. Joe Wardell, superintendent for the Jacksonville Independent School District. "Since this time we only have amendments and bond elections taking place, there wasn't any kind of controversial issue to draw people in. But I'm pleased at our 811 votes. That's still a healthy turnout.”

The polls will remain open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today for the proposed $22.8 million Jacksonville ISD bond election as well as the election for nine proposed statewide constitutional amendments.

If approved by voters, this Nov. 5 JISD bond election could finance the construction of a new West Side Elementary School as well as eight new classrooms and a band hall at Nichols Intermediate School.

Constructed in 1951, West Side Elementary currently has 46 outside entrances, making it difficult to keep secured. It also is overcrowded because it is built for 399 students but houses 473, JISD Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell has said. There are as many as 11 different buildings on the campus, and are unsecured and unsafe, he has said.

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