Impatient early voters could miss Dallas wet/dry ballot

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on October 18, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 19 at 12:26 AM

DALLAS — It's not just partisan races like the one for governor that are on the early voting ballot in Dallas County.

Voters will also have an opportunity to decide on propositions like the beer and wine question in the city of Dallas.

Since only electronic voting machines are used in early voting, there is concern that straight-ticket voters might miss the proposition to decide whether Dallas should go all wet for selling beer and wine in stores and restaurants.

"There are propositions at the end, and you will miss them if you've been careless to not pay attention that there are those at the end of the ballot," said Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet.

In 2006, about 20 percent of voters cast straight-ticket ballots during early voting. Propositions like the beer/wine vote are on the last of nine screens.

Even though there are review screens and reminders, impatient straight-ticket voters could just finish out the ballot without getting to the non-candidate issues.

Things will be different on Election Day, when the county uses paper ballots — one for the partisan elections and one for the propositions.

Opponents of the beer and wine question — including Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway — claim that those wanting the city all "wet" want to hold down the number of ballots cast.

"It was designed this way for the people to have a misunderstanding and confused mindset by putting it in November," Caraway said.

But beer and wine supporters say they want a huge turnout.

"We know that there is a big turnout because of the gubernatorial election, and we want the largest number of people to have the right to choose," said Gary Huddleston, a spokesman for Keep the Dollars in Dallas.

Sherbet says straight-ticket voters should choose to carefully follow directions. "Once you've cast the vote button, you don't get a do-over."

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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