By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

Citizens of Houston and Anderson counties are encouraged to head to the polls and let their voices be heard as early voting begins Monday, April 23 for a number of elections set to take place Saturday, May 5.

Early voting for the Houston County Hospital District Special Election will be held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the basement of the Houston County Courthouse, located at 401 W. Houston Ave. in Crockett.

Dina D. Pipes and Deborah Porth Blackwell are running a contested race for Place 8 on the Houston County Hospital District Board. Unopposed candidates are Perry Ramsey, Place 2; John Stovall, Place 4 and Rhonda Currie Brown, Place 6.

Voters will also have the opportunity to weigh in on the Houston County hospital district’s proposed increase “of the maximum rate of annual taxes imposed for hospital district purposes to a rate not to exceed 35 cents on each $100.00 valuation of all taxable property in the district.”

For more information, contact Houston County Elections Administrator Cynthia Lum at 936-544-3255, ext. 243.

Voters in the Grapeland Hospital District Special Election will have the opportunity to choose between Charley Darsey, Carey Trahan and Sandra Woolsey for Place 2 on the Grapeland Hospital District Board. Carol Wynne is running unopposed for Place 1.

Early voting for the Grapeland Hospital District Special Election will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 23 to May 1 at the City of Grapeland office, 126 S. Oak St. Extended early voting hours will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 24 and April 30.

Applications for ballot by mail shall be mailed no later than the close of business on April 20 to: Cynthia Lum, 401 E. Goliad Ave., Crockett, TX, 75835.

Early voting for the Lovelady Independent School District Order of Trustee Election will be held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the W.T. Bruton/Lovelady Community Center, located at 122 W. Cox St. in Lovelady.

Contested races include Joel Shoemaker and John Pugh, Position 1 and Wacey Scott Moore and Pat Allen, Position 4. Robin Robinson and Bruce Monk are running unopposed for Position 2 and Position 4, respectively.

Ballot by Mail applications should be mailed to the following address no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 24: Lovelady I.S.D. c/o Cindy Burleson, P.O. Box 99, Lovelady, TX 75851

For more information, contact Burleson at 936-636-7616, ext. 221.

Early voting for the City of Palestine General Election and the Palestine City Charter Special Election will be held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the City Council Chambers of the Palestine City Hall, located at 504 N. Queen St. in Palestine. Hours will be extended to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 24 and Tuesday, May 1.

Contested races for the Palestine City Council include Janice Hall and Vickey L. Chivers, District 3 and Doug Smith and Dana Goolsby, District 5.

In the special election, voters will sound off on 12 proposed amendments to the Palestine City Charter.

Ballot by Mail applications should be received by the following address no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 24: Teresa Herrera, City Secretary, 504 N. Queen St., Palestine, TX 75801. For more information, contact Herrera at 903-731-8414.

Voters in the city of Elkhart will be choosing between Carl Hallmark and Lucia Butler for Place 1 and Chris Sheridan, Joseph Faulk and Chuck Conner for Place 5. Raymond Dunlap will be running unopposed for Place 3.

For more information, contact City Secretary Carla Sheridan at 903-764-5757.

According to the official website of the Texas Secretary of State, voters will be required to present one of the seven acceptable forms of photo identification prior to entering the booth. Acceptable forms of photo ID include the following:

• A Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)

  A Texas election identification certificate issued by the DPS

  A Texas license to carry a handgun issued by the DPS

  A Texas personal identification card issued by the DPS

  A United States citizenship certificate which includes the voter’s photo

  A United States military identification card which includes the voter’s photo

  A United States passport

Excluding U.S. citizenship certificates, all forms of identification must be current or must not have expired more than four years prior to the election.

Voters wishing to obtain an election certificate may do so by visiting their local DPS office during regular business hours. The Houston County DPS office is located at 1809 E. Loop 304 in Crockett and may be contacted at 936-544-5917. The Anderson County DPS office is located at 1900 W. Spring St. in Palestine and may be contacted at 903-661-5000. Each office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the event that a voter does not possess a form of acceptable photo identification and has a reasonable impediment preventing him or her from obtaining one, the following supporting forms of ID will be accepted:

• An original certified birth certificate

• A copy of an original government document with the voter’s name and address (original must be provided if a photograph is contained in the document)

• An original bank statement (copy permitted)

• An original paycheck (copy permitted)

• An original government check (copy permitted)

• A current utility bill (copy permitted)

  A valid voter registration certificate

Voters who present a supporting form of identification will be required to complete a reasonable impediment declaration.

Examples of reasonable impediments include disability, illness, a lack of transportation, family responsibilities or work scheduling conflicts which prevent a voter from obtaining a valid form of photo identification. Those who lack a birth certificate or other necessary documentation required for the obtainment of a photo ID, who have applied for a photo ID but not yet received it, or whose photo identification has been lost or stolen also qualify.

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.