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Official: Below average turnout locally for early voting

By Mike Elswick melswick@news-journal.com
May 15, 2012 at 10 p.m.


Whether Mitt Romney edges out Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich or Michele Bachmann for Texas delegates in the Republican presidential primary evidently is not at the top of Gregg County voters' minds, according to Kathryn Neely, Gregg County elections administrator.

And whether Barack Obama takes Texas Democratic delegates over challengers Bob Ely, Darcy Richardson or John Wolfe isn't doing a lot to drum up local voter turnout during the first couple of days of early voting, either, she said Tuesday.

Fewer than than 1 percent of the county's 64,000 registered voters had taken time to cast ballots through the first two days of early voting for the May 29 primary elections, Neely said.

"We need to remind people this is a presidential primary," she said.

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, about 610 people had cast ballots during the first two days of early voting - or less than 1 percent of registered voters.

"It's been slow, but we hope things pick up," she said.

It was just the opposite story in adjacent Harrison County, where Elections Administrator Pam Brock said that between walk-in early voters and mailed out ballots, nearly 1,100 of the county's 40,769 registered voters showed an interest in the early voting.

"Our turnout has been very good so far - not overwhelming - but brisk at times," Brock said. She attributed some high interest locally contested races as the factor bringing voters in.

By late Tuesday afternoon more than 750 Republican voters had cast ballots in person in Harrison County compared to about 50 Democratic walk-in ballots cast. Brock's office has also mailed out more than 540 mail ballots - with the majority of those being Republican Party requests.

In Rusk County, officials said about 284 people cast early ballots Monday with another 200 cast by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Upshur County officials said early voting activity appeared to be picking up Tuesday compared to Monday. About 250 early votes total had been cast in Upshur County by Tuesday afternoon, they said.

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