Breckenridge Texan

Early voting in county off to a strong start, continues this week

Early voting in county off to a strong start, continues this week
October 29
09:48 2018

Early voting in Stephens County got off to strong start last week. According to Tax Assessor/Collector Christie Latham, who is the election coordinator for the county, 26 percent of the 5,594 registered voters had already voted by 5 p.m. on Friday. “A lot of times, we don’t even have 20 percent after it’s said and done,” Latham said.

She said during the first week of early voting, which will continue this week, 1,301 people had voted in person and 146 ballots-by-mail had been received for a total of 1,447 votes.

Latham said there had been a steady stream of voters in early voting and at times there were people lined up almost down to the treasurer’s office. “Very seldom do we have more than two or three at a time,” she said.

One interesting thing that happened last week, Latham said, was that the turnout for the second day of voting was higher than for the first day. The daily in-person vote totals for last week were Monday, 300; Tuesday, 325; Wednesday, 195; Thursday 239; and Friday 242. She said she doesn’t ever recall an election when the second day of voting was higher than the first day.

“The first day is always high and then it goes down,” said said. “Wednesday is usually the lowest and then it starts coming back up towards the end of the week. And it generally does the same thing on the second week, but just at a lower volume.”

She said the average age of voters so far was 55.

“There’s always a possibility that the high numbers we’re seeing right now is just everybody wanting to vote early, it could taper off, who knows,” Latham said. “It’s the strongest start we’ve had, that I can ever remember.”

Mail-in ballots

Latham said they had sent out 234 ballots by mail and already received back 146 with 88 still out. She the mail-in ballots can be received up until 5 p.m. the day after the election.

2018 Primary election

Latham said the number of votes cast during early voting in the primary election earlier this year, including ballot-by-mail, was 885. Then, on Primary Election Day, 896 votes were cast for a total of 1,781 votes. Early voting during that election was shorten by three days because of a holiday, and on two days, the courthouse was closed because of bad weather.

Total votes in 2016 presidential election

During the 2016 presidential election, Latham said, there were 2,016 votes cast during early voting. On election day, she said, an additional 1,037 votes were cast for a total of 3,053 votes during the election. During the first week of early voting in that election, the number of votes by day were Monday, 255; Tuesday, 208; Wednesday, 147; Thursday, 190 and Friday 215.

“We’re all excited about this big turn out this first week,” Latham said. “It’s possible it could dwindle out and not hold true for the rest of the election, but I doubt it.”

State-wide Trend

Stephens County’s Early Voting numbers are in line with the rest of the state, which is also experiencing higher than usual numbers. According to an article on the Dallas Observer‘s website, more than three times as many voters have cast ballots in Dallas County than voted in 2014, the last mid-term election.

The Texas Secretary of State‘s office is reporting that at the end of voting on Friday, almost 20 percent of the registered voters in 30 specific Texas counties have voted in Early Voting and by mail-in ballots. Those 30 counties are home to 78 percent of the registered voters in Texas, according to the Texas Tribune website.

Record number of limited ballots cast

Also, Latham said there have been a record number of limited ballots cast during early voting. She said a limited ballot is used when someone moves into Stephens County and did not get their voter registration switched over in time for the deadline but is still a registered voter in the county that they moved from. She said they are allowed to vote for any races that are common to the county they moved from and Stephens County, such as a state-wide race.

She said such voters would not be allowed to vote on any local elections or the city’s alcohol proposition, even if they live in the city limits. However, they could still vote in a state representative or state senator race if those races cross over from their old county and Stephens County. Latham said they have a chart that tells them which district every county is in so they can compare the counties to determine which races are common to the two counties.

Before a person can vote a limited ballot, Latham said, her office would first have to verify the voter was in fact still a registered in the county they moved from.

Latham said state law only allows limited ballots to be cast during early voting and not on election day because there’s a lot of research involved to verify a voter’s eligibility.

“Usually people don’t want to bother with it (limited ballot), but we’ve had eight so far.” she said.

Early voting continues this week

Early voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Nov. 2, at the Stephens County Tax Office in the Courthouse at 200 W. Walker St. in Breckenridge. Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 6. For more information, about the election, click here to read an earlier Breckenridge Texan article.

 

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Voters were at the poll early on the first day of Early Voting to cast their ballots. Early Voting continues this week at the Stephens County Courthouse. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 5, 2018, to correct information about the 2016 Early Voting totals. The number listed does not include Ballot By Mail votes.

 

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