AP NEWS

School bond, municipal races brought Nederland voters to early polls

May 16, 2019

Nederland voters are turning out in record numbers to be a part of this year’s hotly contested election, early voting tallies show.

At the close of early voting on Tuesday, 3,219 of 11,657 registered voters had cast their vote. The next highest total turnout in an election that included municipal and school board items was 2,984 in 2009.

The implications for Election Day turnout on Saturday are not yet clear, City Clerk Gay Ferguson said.

“We’ll just have to watch how this turns out,” she said.

The proposed $155.6 million bond included on this year’s ballot is the third time in a decade that a school bond issue has gone before city voters. A bond was rejected in 2009; voters split in 2012, approving $28 million for heating and cooling upgrades but declining $50 million to rebuild two schools.

Proponents of the current bond issue say they don’t want to lose out on people who would balk at the idea of relocating to an area with schools that aren’t up to par. Those against the bond said it’s likely to raise the cost of local goods and services when business owners compensate for the extra expense.

Nederland voters are also voting on a few City Council races and charter changes.

While it’s the most notable, Nederland isn’t the only Southeast Texas city where voter turnout has ballooned.

Beaumont residents turned out on the last few days of early voting, bringing turnout totals closer to what city staff expected.

“It looks to me that the numbers picked up tremendously on Saturday,” said City Clerk Tina Broussard.

Early voting totals show 10,521 of 70,976 registered voters turned out during early voting.

The city has 19 candidates for six contested races — at the higher end of what Broussard has seen during her time as city clerk.

Beaumont voters also are choosing school board members and a port commissioner.

Port Arthur early voting turnout shows 2,547 of 28,174 registered voters have participated in the election, which features the mayor’s seat as the only municipal race.

That’s more than the most recent mayoral election in 2016, when 2,317 people participated in early voting. It’s also the highest early voting tally since at least 2015.

kaitlin.bain@beaumontenterprise.com

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