Early voting setting records

February 22, 2008 9:06:51 PM PST
If you think voting in the primary isn't important, then you are certainly in the minority in Harris County. Voters have been rushing to the polls for the past few days and it appears next week will be more of the same. Early voting has been going on for four days and the number of people who cast their ballot has already surpassed all early voting in 2004. And as that goes on, the plans for the March primary are in full swing.

The totals are already breaking records and Friday was the heaviest voting day yet. And it's probably a sign of things to come. Friday brought what's called the triple line at the Metropolitian multi-service center, more early voting than ever before.

The wait at one point was said to be 45 minutes to vote.

"This has been something else," said early voter Kelly Hart. "I knew to come early 'cause there were gonna be lines."

The turnout has been astounding. In four days, nearly 51,000 people voted in person. Democratic primary voters outnumbered Republicans by about three to one. Compare that to the last presidential primary. There were 34,381 total early voters, slightly more Democratic votes than Republican. Also in 2004, of all the votes cast in that election, more than 4 out of 10 were cast early. That may increase this time.

"We're seeing a trend in elections where there's great interest," said Hector DeLeon with the county clerk's office. "More and more people are deciding to use the early voting period and on election day, we find that helps because the voting is quieter."

Harris County has nearly 9,000 e-slates available for the election, which may see record participation. In the primary, it's seeing record numbers of Democrats.

"We're seeing very sizeable voting in white suburban areas, normally Republican, but these voting in the Democratic primary in numbers never seen before in modern Texas politics," said KTRK political analyst Dr. Richard Murray.

It's numbers that candidates and campaigners have never before seen here, either.

"This is just early voting," said Jack Valinski with the GLBT Political Caucus. "Can you imagine what it's going to be like on election day?"

Polls open Saturday morning at 7am and go through 7pm tomorrow. Early voting will also be held on Sunday. There are 35 early voting locations. You can find the closest to you here.

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