Big turnout in first day of early voting

October 20, 2008 8:44:44 PM PDT
Record numbers of Texans packed the polling locations from Houston to El Paso today to start early voting for the Nov. 4 election. [VOTE EARLY: County by county early voting info]

Early voting continues through Oct. 31.

State officials reported no major voting problems. Most counties chalked up delays to usual first-day glitches.

The Texas Secretary of State's office says totals from the 15 largest counties wouldn't be available until Tuesday. But whatever the number, it figures to surpass the nearly 190,000 first-day early voters in the 2004 election.

In Travis County, election officials reported to authorities that a man dressed in business attire and carrying a clipboard tried to impersonate an election official at a polling place in a grocery store and give out incorrect information about straight ticket voting procedures for Democratic candidates.

County Clerk Dana DeBeavoir said the unidentified man fled in a car with John McCain bumper stickers on it. She said he had committed a state jail felony.

Here's more:

-- Harris County finished the day with a record 39,201 early voters - an 88 percent increase from the first-day turnout in 2004.
-- Dallas County topped 23,000 voters.
-- Travis County had more than 22,000 voters.
-- Many still can't return to Galveston County because Hurricane Ike on Sept. 13 wiped out their homes.

But more than 4,000 of them voted early -- a record despite some parts of Galvston County still so devastated that early voting reminders were made at shelters.

What you need to know before voting

There are a couple of things you need to bring to the polling locations. You need to bring your registration card and your driver's license. The magnetic strip on your license is now being used to scan the voter and get you in and out quicker compared to years past.

Four new locations opened up in Harris County this year. The county says it is just one of many things it's done to make the process faster for voters.

Anyone wishing to vote by mail must request a ballot from their home counties by October 28. Those eligible to vote early include senior citizens, the disabled and those expecting to be outside their home county during early voting and election day.

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