By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
Voter turnout for the Killeen City Council and mayoral election was 5.18 percent, City Secretary Paula Miller said Monday.
She said the 2.7 percent reported Saturday – election day – was due to a spreadsheet error.
"I don't know why, I just copied the formula," Miller said.
According to Miller's information, 2,859 of 55,072 registered voters cast ballots for the election, counting early voting and election day totals.
She said the actual percentage is probably higher than that. About one-third of the voter registrations are "suspended," according to Miller. She said when people move out of the area and register elsewhere, their voter registration is suspended for four years unless they confirm they are still living there or give written notice to the registrar of voters canceling their registration.
Despite the boost, it's not enough for some officials.
Mayor Timothy Hancock, who was re-elected by less than a 200-vote margin, said that low a voter turnout is sad.
"We need to work on that," Hancock said Monday. "I have no answer on how to do this, but we need to work on voter turnout."
Councilman Juan Rivera, who was not up for re-election this year, watched the vote totals come in at City Hall on Saturday. He, too, expressed disappointment with the turnout. Rivera noted that the 55,072 registered voters is roughly 47 percent of the population.
"Where are 52 percent of the population?" Rivera asked.
More people may have voted in the mayor's race than the city council race. Voters could select up to three candidates for the council at-large seats and just one mayoral candidate. In the council race, there were 7,350 votes. In the mayor's race, there were 2,815 votes, which is more than one-third of the council votes.
The results are not official until the council canvasses the votes today. Miller said there are some provisional ballots that may not count.
In 2007, just 918 people voted, but it was 4.66 percent of registered voters. Two elections were canceled because the race was for specific districts and two candidates were unopposed. So, there were just 19,698 registered voters eligible to take part in election day, Miller said.
In 2006, the last mayoral and council at-large election, 1,884 people voted out of 53,303 registered voters. In 2005, 3,107 of 51,548 registered voters took to the polls for city council elections.
Among the largest voter turnouts in recent years was 9.46 percent in 2004 – 4,684 of 49,499 registered voters cast ballots. That election, in addition to a city council race, included two alcohol issues and a proposition regarding the firefighters' retirement plan.
In 2003, voter turnout was 4.6 percent with 2,168 of 47,135 registered voters participating.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7550.