Primaries Loom with Early Voting Gloom

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The early votes are in, and voters aren't coming out. There have been a third fewer voters in the Republican primaries so far compared to 2002, and just half the number of Democratic primary voters.

Of the 85,000 registered voters in Brazos County, around 2,500 have voted early in the primaries, and the vast majority of those voters -- nearly 2,100 of them -- have voted in the Republican races.

"You don't declare what party you are when you register to vote," said Karen McQueen, Brazos County clerk. "It's just every other year, you vote in a primary. That kind of declares you, not exactly for the whole year, but at least through the runoff."

And the option to choose one party's primaries looms large in places like Brazos County, where all but one primary are for the nomination of one party, the Republican. Regardless of your political party, you can vote in whatever primary you want.

"Whatever primary you vote in, if there's a runoff, you have to vote in that runoff or not vote at all," McQueen said. "You can't cross parties in the primary or the runoff, whereas November, you can vote for a Republican, a Democratic candidate, Libertarian, independent, whoever you want to."

But if you vote in a primary, you lose the option to help out independent candidates. In the case of the governor's race, both Carole Keaton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman need thousands of signatures to be in the election.

"If someone votes in a primary, they cannot sign a petition to put that independent on the ballot," McQueen said. "They could sign it, but it wouldn't count. It would be struck off."

Meaning a vote in the primaries can keep you from voting for others.

And after you've cast your vote in your county Tuesday , be sure to stay tuned to KBTX and throughout the night. We'll have complete, live election night coverage as the votes are tallied.