Election Blog: Arlington Approves Ballpark Funding; Dallas County House Races Close | KERA News

Election Blog: Arlington Approves Ballpark Funding; Dallas County House Races Close

Nov 8, 2016

Texas stayed as reliably conservative as ever Tuesday on a big night for Republicans nationally, with Donald Trump locking up its 38 presidential electoral votes and a party-switching judge losing his re-election bid to ensure that a Democrat still hasn't won statewide office in a worst-in-the-nation 22 years and counting.

Hillary Clinton won Dallas County and other urban counties around the state. Trump won Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties.

Locally, Arlington voters overwhelmingly approved funding half of a new billion-dollar ballpark for the Texas Rangers. The city will spend $500 million -- including sales, hotel and car rental taxes. 

Texas Democrats scored some victories in the Texas House. The Texas Tribune reports Democrats picked up four seats in the state House:  "Incumbent Rep. Kenneth Sheets of Dallas fell to Democratic challenger Victoria Neave by fewer than 900 votes, marking the conclusion of the state’s most expensive House race," the Tribune reports.

There were some bright spots for Dallas Democrats. Both Democrats on the County Commissioners’ court held their seats, including John Wiley Price, who’s awaiting a criminal trial. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez was re-elected. 

Other local elections included a proposition in Dallas to reduce retirement benefits for future city civilian employees hired after Jan. 1. It passed with almost 70 percent of the vote.

In the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district, voters narrowly approved a tax ratification election that would raise the overall tax rate by 11 cents, generating $17 million a year for the district.

Texas Senators congratulate Trump

Texas' Republican U.S. senators are congratulating Donald Trump on the upset victory that will send him to the White House.

Ted Cruz finished second to the billionaire businessman in a bitter Republican presidential primary.

Cruz said in a statement early Wednesday that he looks "forward to working with the new administration to confirm conservative justices" to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cruz added: "It will take resolve and commitment to undo the havoc wreaked on our country the last eight years."

John Cornyn, Texas' senior senator, said in a statement, that "Texans and all Americans are understandably concerned for our country and the direction we're headed."

He also said, "The American people have delivered a resounding message that they're ready for change."

Neither Cruz nor Cornyn were up for re-election Tuesday.

Hurd stays in Congress

Republican Rep. Will Hurd is staying in Congress after surviving concerns about Donald Trump and a hard-fought rematch with the candidate he narrowly unseated two years ago.

Hurd beat former Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego in a district that sprawls from San Antonio nearly to El Paso, encompassing 800-plus miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

An ex-CIA agent and one of only three black congressional Republicans, Hurd limited Gallego to a single term by beating him in 2014. Tuesday's race was the only competitive one among Texas' 36 congressional districts.

Hurd outraised Gallego and urged Trump to abandon the GOP presidential nomination after the release of a recording where the New Yorker made crude comments about women.

His victory marks the first time the district hasn't flipped between parties since 2010.

Minute-by-minute on Election night

Here's a look at results from around Texas on Tuesday night.

Update, 11:30 p.m. Arlington voters have approved to use city funds to pay $500 million of a new $1 billion stadium for the Texas Rangers, according to The Associated Press. 

With 98 percent of the vote counted, voters approved by a 60-to-40-percent margin Tuesday the extension of a half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel-occupancy tax and 5 percent car-rental tax for a new home for the Major League Baseball team. That revenue now goes to defraying Arlington's $155 million debt on its share of the cost of the NFL Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium, which opened in 2009.

The vote also allows a 10 percent admission tax and a $3 parking tax for the Rangers' use, the same deal reached for the Cowboys.

Although the Rangers hadn't publicly threatened to leave, a team representative held preliminary talks with Dallas officials about a covered stadium there.

For the latest on competitive Dallas County House races in Districts 102, 105, 107 and 113 and Texas' competitive congressional race between Republican Will Hurd and Democrat Peter Gallego, scroll down for the Texas Tribune's live election results. 

Update, 11:06 p.m. Rep. Linda Koop is the projected winner of the District 102 seat in the Texas House, according to the Texas Tribune. In District 107, Democrat Victoria Neave is the projected winner over Republican incumbent Kenneth Sheets, according to the Tribune.  In District 113, Republican Cindy Burkett is projected to beat competitor Rhetta Andrews Bowers. The fourth competitive Dallas County Texas House race in District 105 between Rodney Anderson and Terry Meza is still up in the air. 

Update, 10:45 p.m. The four competitive Texas house races in Dallas County continue to be close. 

  • District 102: Linda Koop (R) 55 percent vs. Laura Irvin (D) approximately 45 percent.
  • District 105: Rodney Anderson (R) 50 percent vs. Terry Meza (D) 50 percent.
  • District 107: Kenneth Sheets (R) almost 50 percent vs. Victoria Neave (D) just over 50 percent. 
  • District 113: Cindy Burkett (R) 55 percent vs. Rhetta Andrews Bowers (D) with 45 percent. 

Update, 10:35 p.m. With nearly all precincts reporting, support to help fund $500 million of a new stadium for the Texas Rangers is still strong, with just over 60 percent of voters for the proposition.

Update, 10 p.m. Republicans are leading the Texas State Board of Education races. 

The Texas Tribune reports, "The GOP’s leads in four contested races Tuesday were smaller than the ones the Republican Party has seen in Texas in recent years, but early returns showed candidates leading their Democratic challengers by notable margins."

Update, 9:30 p.m. In early returns, former state Rep. Wayne Christian is leading the race for Railroad Commissioner. He's currently carrying almost 53 percent of the vote. Democrat Grady Yarbrough trails behind with just under 40 percent of the early vote. Read this story for context on the race

Update, 9:22 p.m. Donald Trump made sure Texas stayed America's largest red state on Tuesday, easily locking up its 38 electoral votes.

The billionaire businessman prevailed despite some polling last month suggesting that Hillary Clinton might at least be competitive and questions about whether the state's traditional Republican base would fully embrace such a bombastic and nontraditional candidate. Even former President and Texas Gov. George W. Bush and his wife Laura declined to vote for Trump, "choosing none of the above" on early ballots they cast two weeks ago, according to spokesman Freddy Ford.

"Trump wasn't my first, second, third, fourth or fifth choice. He was the one who survived the primaries," said Lyndon Joslin, a 60-year-old who cast his ballot at a southwest Houston elementary school. "This is just like another deal he's trying to strike. Being somebody who's been on reality television, this is almost like another showbiz turn for him."

Befitting the GOP White House nominee's affinity for the word "huge," though, Trump's win came on a record-shattering night for Texas. The state exceeded 15.1 million registered voters for the first time, while voter turnout broke 2008's record of just over 8 million.

A Democrat hasn't won statewide office in Texas since 1994, the longest electoral losing streak in the country. But the party still had a potential bright spot in a West Texas congressional district sprawling from San Antonio to suburban El Paso and encompassing 800-plus miles of largely sparsely populated U.S.-Mexico border. There, former Democratic congressman Pete Gallego was in a dead-heat with the Republican incumbent who unseated him two years ago, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd.

Trump's win means Texas still hasn't supported a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter 40 years ago.

Update, 9:04 p.m. In early returns, Republican U.S. Rep. Will Hurd is leading former Democrat U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego by nearly 5 percentage points. Hurd edged Gallego in 2014, and their rematch should be Texas' only competitive congressional race, though all 36 House seats are on the ballot. 

Update, 8:05 p.m. Trump wins Texas' 38 presidential electoral votes, keeps America's largest conservative state red, according to the Associated Press. He held leads in Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties, while Hillary Clinton led in Dallas, Harris, Bexar and Travis counties, according to the Texas Tribune.

Update, 7:45 p.m. Dallas County has four particularly competitive state House races this election. Here's what those races look like from early voting totals alone.

  • District 102: Linda Koop (R) 54 percent vs. Laura Irvin (D) approximately 46 percent.
  • District 105: Rodney Anderson (R) 52 percent vs. Terry Meza (D) 48 percent.
  • District 107: Kenneth Sheets (R) almost 50 percent vs. Victoria Neave (D) just over 50 percent. 
  • District 113: Cindy Burkett (R) 55 percent vs. Rhetta Andrews Bowers (D) with 45 percent. 

Read our story for context on the competitive races

Update, 7:28 p.m. So far, Dallas County early voters are widely for a proposition that would curb pension benefits of future employees of the City of Dallas. The plan would affect employees hired after Jan. 1, 2017. Early voting shows just over 70 percent are for the proposition and nearly 30 percent are against. 

Update, 7:22 p.m. With early voting ballots counted, voters are split on whether to approve a tax ratification that would provide $17 million in funding a year for Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District. So far, nearly 51 percent are for and 49 percent are against the 11-cent tax hike. 

Read our story for context on the tax ratification election

Update, 7:06 p.m. One of the biggest local issues: Voters in Arlington are deciding whether to spend $500 million in sales, hotel and car rental taxes to pay for half of a new billion-dollar ballpark for the Texas Rangers.  So far, with early voting ballots counted, 60 percent of votes are in favor of funding the stadium.

Read our story for context on the Arlington proposition.

We’ll be updating this live blog throughout the evening. 

Election results

Later tonight, check out election results from across Texas, courtesy of the Texas Tribune:

Voters cast their ballots in Texas today to decide on the high-profile, heated presidential race and several statewide and local issues. Polls close at 7 p.m.

In Texas, polls show Republican Donald Trump with a lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton. In mid-October, Trump was ahead by just a few points in various polls.

But Trump's lead has widened in several recent statewide polls. Texas has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980. The last time Texas went Democratic? Jimmy Carter in 1976.

In North Texas, voters will decide who will represent various Dallas County districts in the Texas House, whether Arlington will pay for half of a new stadium for the Texas Rangers and if Carrollton-Farmers Branch will raise taxes for more school funding.

Here are the local races on our radar:

A heated Congressional race

Could Trump uneasiness cost Republican Rep. Will Hurd his West Texas seat? Hurd edged former Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego in 2014, and their rematch should be Texas' only competitive congressional race, though all 36 House seats are on Tuesday's ballot. Hurd's district sprawls from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso and encompasses 800-plus miles of Texas-Mexico borderlands. Hurd is one of the few top Texas Republicans who urged Trump to abandon the GOP presidential nomination after the 2005 recording surfaced in which the New York businessman bragged about groping and kissing women without permission.

Tight Texas House races in Dallas County

There are few competitive state legislative races, and they all happen to be in Dallas County. Democrats are looking to Dallas for state House wins. Read the story from KERA's Chris Connelly.

Arlington stadium vote

Arlington voters are split on whether to pay $500 million (50 percent) for a new stadium for the Texas Rangers with city funds. The "yes" campaign doesn't want to potentially lose the Rangers to another city, but those against the proposition say it's a bad deal and voting "no" could allow time for a better one. Read the story from KERA's Chris Connelly.   

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD tax ratification

Voters will decide whether to raise the overall tax rate by 11 cents to generate more money for the school district. If voters approve the measure, the school district would receive $17 million a year. Opponents say the district doesn't need more money at a time when student enrollment is going down. Read the story from KERA's Stella M. Chávez.

Proposition 1 in Dallas County

Proposition 1 would curb the pension benefits of future employees of the City of Dallas. The plan would affect employees hired after Jan. 1, 2017. Proposed changes from Employee Retirement Fund officials are projected to save the city-supported pension fund $2.15 billion over the next three decades, The Dallas Morning News reports. This fund is not associated with the troubled Police and Fire Pension Fund.

For all national, statewide and local coverage, check out our Elections page.

Election issues across the country

By collecting data signals from Google Trends, social media and election hotlines, Electionland is creating the largest real-time comprehensive look into voting issues in U.S. history. Explore the map.

The latest #TXdecides tweets from KERA News:

Earlier coverage from Election Day

George and Laura Bush didn't vote for president

George W. and Laura Bush did not vote for Republican nominee or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, a spokesman said Tuesday. Instead, they left the top of the ticket blank and voted Republicans downballot, according to the Texas Tribune.   

Neither Bush nor his father, George H.W. endorsed Trump — or Clinton — but speculation about how they would vote gained traction as Election Day neared. 

In Texas, hundreds of voter complaints came

Voting rights advocates say some Houston voters had their polling stations changed at the last minute and were informed by hand-written signs posted on walls and trees.

Spokesman Zenen Perez of the Texas Civil Rights Project says most of the changes were in predominantly black areas of the nation's fourth-largest city.

"Some people had to go three locations before they got to vote," said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of the Texas chapter of Common Cause.

Other complaints among about 1,400 calls received from Texas on an Election Day hotline set up by nonprofits included scattered reports of voting technology malfunctions lines longer than an hour in parts of Houston and Dallas.

The poll workers were unaware they needed to provide voters who lacked photo IDs with "reasonable impediment forms" that allow them to vote, said Gutierrez.

"The public education campaign that the Secretary of State was supposed to have carried out was just underfunded and really poorly executed and has brought about massive amounts of confusion, it seems like," said Gutierrez.

On the last-minute polling station moves, Perez said the hotline had received six reports and "in some cases it was just a paper posted on a wall saying that polling station was closed without offering more information."

Hundreds of voters in Keller were turned away at Town Hall

Despite being one of the busiest early voting locations, Keller Town Hall isn't open for voting on Election Day. It's a mistake Keller voters make every year, city spokesman Rachel Reynolds tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, 345 people who showed up at the town hall had to be turned away and find another place to cast their ballot. During the primary in the spring, almost 1,000 people were turned away, Reynolds says. 

The city put reminders that Town Hall isn't an Election Day polling location in its early voting information and on social media, the Star-Telegram reports.

Voting in Grand Prairie was delayed because an election judge died

Voting at Betty Warmack Library in Grand Prairie was unavailable for about two hours this morning due to the death of an election judge at home.

 

The Dallas County elections department and the office of County Judge Clay Jenkins were seeking an extension of voting hours in Precinct 4502 at the library. 

Jenkins later confirmed voting would be extended until 9 p.m. at that one polling location. 

Grand Prairie police Officer Lyle Gensler identified the man who died as 60-year-old Gary Cox. Gensler says officials believe that Cox had some medical issues. Police did not elaborate.

Voting in Richmond, Texas was delayed because of machine problems

Elsewhere in Texas, a woman in line to vote at a high school in Richmond, near Houston, told The Associated Press that machine problems forced dozens of people to leave in search of new places to cast their ballots.

Andrea Patience says as many as a 100 people were in line Tuesday morning when just one of the eight voting machines was working, then all of the machines crashed. Election officials advised the waiting voters and suggested at least one other place to vote. Patience says about half of the people waiting to vote — left. 

The machines were fixed, around 8:10 a.m. Tuesday.

Problems at the polls? Tell us how voting is going

Use the hashtag #TXdecides if you plan on tweeting while before/after you vote. Word to the wise, don’t take a selfie with your ballot. And if you have issues at the polls, tell us at KERA by texting TXDECIDES to 69866.

Be sure to bring voter ID

Voter identification requirements are different this election. Seven forms of photo ID are accepted at the polls, and now, several types of supporting documentation will suffice if you don’t have one.

The following are acceptable forms of identification to bring:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate (issued by DPS)
  • Texas personal identification card (issued by DPS)
  • Texas license to carry a handgun (issued by DPS)
  • U.S. military identification card that has a photo
  • U.S. citizenship certificate that has a photo
  • U.S. passport

If a voter can't present one of those seven forms of ID, he or she can sign a declaration at the polling place explaining why he or she can't obtain of the approved forms and provide one of the following forms of supporting documentation:

  • An original, certified birth certificate
  • A valid voter registration certificate
  • A copy or original of one of the following: current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and an address.

Government documents that include a photo must be original and cannot be copies.

Here’s where you can vote today:

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Learn more about voting here. Be sure to vote in your precinct and bring one of these forms of voter ID:

A record number of voters registered and turned out early

The Secretary of State's Office says Texas had 15.1 million registered voters going into Tuesday's election. Almost 4.5 million Texas residents cast early ballots in the state's 15 largest counties. Early voting ended Friday. Experts say Texas should surpass its 2008 record of 8 million voters.

So can I take a selfie at the polls?

Taking a selfie with your ballot (when voting in person) is illegal. In Texas, photography within 100 feet of polling stations is prohibited, the Associated Pressreports. Photos of mail-in ballots are OK. Texas banned cameras and recording equipment long before the smartphone selfie culture boomed — actually just a few months after the first iPhone came out in 2007.

In short, don’t be like Justin Timberlake.

It's going to be a low-key Election Day for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Spokesman John Wittman said Monday the governor already cast his ballot during early voting and plans spending Tuesday night watching election returns from the governor's mansion.

Abbott originally endorsed Ted Cruz for president but has been quieter about the White House race since the Texas senator dropped out. He's backing Donald Trump but hasn't campaigned for the Republican nominee.

Abbott was spending the eve of the Election Day at a Republican rally in San Antonio. Also scheduled to attend was congressman Will Hurd, who's in a competitive race and has said he won't vote for Trump.

Abbott also campaigned for local judges in Houston last month.

Here’s the radar for North Texas:

It's a rainy day at the polls. Check the National Weather Service in Fort Worth for details. Otherwise, bring your umbrella! The National Weather Service reported rain or misty conditions Tuesday morning in Dallas, Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Waco, Greenville and Kerrville. Voters in Austin, Houston and San Antonio can expect a chance of thunderstorms through Tuesday night.

Election issues across the country

By collecting data signals from Google Trends, social media and election hotlines, Electionland is creating the largest real-time comprehensive look into voting issues in U.S. history. Explore the map.