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2016 Elections: What You Need To Know

Credit David Martin Davies / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio

Election 2016 will be one for the history books.  The wild and tumultuous presidential contest has resulted in a surge of new voter registrations.  Down ballot candidates are trying to factor-in the impact of the Clinton-Trump matchup on their races. 

The League of Women Voters has produced a non-partisan Voters' Guide with information about candidates running for all offices. 

If you still need help finding your Election Day voting location check here:

Here are a few things to remember:

You can view ballots by checking your county elections website:

For other statewide elections information or early vote totals you can check the Secretary of State's website.

With a look at the presid​ential elections, NPR has created a cheat sheet on where each candidate stands on the issues. NPR highlights were chosen from the Top 10 issues voters said were "very important" to their vote, according to a 2016 poll from the Pew Research Center.

In addition to the presidential contest, TPR is closely watching how Texans decide the following competitive elections: 


Three candidates are vying to unseat incumbent Sheriff Susan Pamerleau, the Republican.  Opponents include San Antonio Police Officer Javier Salazar, the Democrat;  Green Party candidate James Dorsey and Libertarian Candidate Larry Ricketts

Pamerleau cites her leadership and experience with a 32-year career in the military and as a vice president of USAA as reasons she should retain the job. Salazar says his law enforcement experience and his commitment to the community make him the right person for the job.

Dorsey is a sergeant with the South San School District. He's a Louisiana native who came to San Antonio in 1985 as a military serviceman based at Kelly Air Force Base.  He says his military career in security services is the equivalent of law enforcement work.  Ricketts is a Vietnam veteran who has worked in county law enforcement for 27 years. He's worked in the Bexar County jail monitoring inmates for several years beginning the the late 1980s.  He now works in the Precinct 4 Constable's Office in public affairs.


Pete Gallego believes in this predominantly Latino border district that he can reclaim the seat he narrowly lost to Republican Will Hurd two years ago. Hurd and Gallego are in a tight race for the 23rd Congressional District, a heavily Latino district that includes hundreds of miles of Texas-Mexico border. Hurd was born and raised in San Antonio and has served as an undercover CIA officer in the Middle East and Asia. Considered a cybersecurity expert, he has also focused on border security issues. Hurd’s had several bills signed into law including one protecting overtime pay for border patrol agents. He also co-sponsored a bill to modernize the federal government’s outdated Information Technology infrastructure and save money. He hopes his Homeland Security experience plays well in this district, where there are a large number of veterans and active military.

Hurd is a rising star in the Republican Party, one of just three black Republicans in Congress but he only beat Gallego by two percentage points in their first matchup last election. Gallego had represented the district from 2012 to 2014. He’s a lawyer from Alpine, Texas, a small town in this massive district that stretches all the way from the suburbs of San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso. He also served in the Texas State House for more than 20 years. Gallego is talking about veteran’s issues, border issues, education, small business. While he was in Congress, he served in the Agriculture and Armed Services committees. Gallego is playing up the fact that he understands the border. He also talks about the environment. Gallego, who’s been called a “Clean Energy Champion” by the Sierra Club, was at one point going after Hurd for supporting a border security bill that could have added roads to Big Ben National Park, with exemptions from environmental laws.


Republican John Lujan defeated Democrat Tomas Uresti in a special election runoff in January for Texas House District 118. The special election had been called after Joe Farias, a Democrat, resigned his state house seat before the end of his term. He had been the district’s representative since 2007.

Lujan and Uresti were the top two finishers out of six candidates vying for the seat in the Nov. 3 election. Both were also on the March 1 primary ballots the race to serve a full term beginning in 2017. Lujan is a retired firefighter now working in the IT industry, founding Sistema Technologies. He’d like to improve education quality and as a former deputy sheriff he is also a proponent for strong public safety.  Uresti is a former Harlandale School Board member who says he plans to fight for increased educational opportunities. He also has his eye on the growth of San Antonio’s population and plans to find ways to minimize traffic and “wasteful spending.”


Ruth Jones McClendon represented the East Side’s Texas House District 120 for 20 years before stepping down before the end of her term earlier this year. Independent Laura Thompson won a special election to complete McClendon’s term – just four months. Thompson is running for re-election after gathering 616 signatures to be added to the ballot. However, the Bexar County Democratic Party is challenging whether all the signatures were valid. So far, the Secretary of State’s Office has eliminated some of the names but there were still enough left for Thompson to remain on the ballot. An appeal remains in court. If Thompson is allowed to remain on the ballot she will face Democratic Barbara Gervin-Hawkins on Election Day.

Gervin-Hawkins is the superintendent and co-founder of the George Gervin Academy. She has said education is a priority for her and she is a proponent of charter schools as way to improve education. She wants to expand Medicaid, work to increase graduation rates and fight for paid family leave and affordable childcare. Thompson is a certified mediator and a supporter of vouchers for private schools as a way to give parents more school choices. Thompson says she supports small business owners, wants to make technology more readily available and to improve transportation within the district. 

Voters who live in the San Antonio Independent School District will decide on two measures that would raise money to renovate aging schools; provide technology in classrooms; and offer after school and summer programs. The $450 million bond would primarily be used to renovate 13 schools, most of which are 40 years old. A separate measure on the ballot calls for increasing the district’s maintenance and operating tax rate from $1.04 to $1.17, which is the maximum allowed by state law. Money from the increased tax rate would pay for afterschool and summer school teachers. SAISD officials say an additional 14,000 students who need additional academic help would be served. The increased taxes also would pay for classroom technology. If voters approve both measures, SAISD home owners with properties valued at $200,000, would see their annual tax bill go up about $260 this year, and about $500 in four years.

Bexar County Elections/By the Numbers

  • 712 voting precincts
  • 53 political subdivisions
  • 20 independent school districts
  • 29 cities
  • 3 military installations (including Lackland AFB, Fort Sam Houston, and Randolph Air Force Base)

There are more than 1,018,639 registered voters.

Tricia Schwennesen is the Web Producer/News Editor for Texas Public Radio where she manages the station’s web site and social media accounts.