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Early voting turnout results in record-breaking numbers

By by Peggy Jones
Nov. 1, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Based on heavy early voting turnout, election administrators across East Texas on Thursday predicted record voter turnout on Tuesday as the deadline to vote early neared. Early voting ends at 7 p.m. today.

In Rusk County, Elections Administrator Kathie Wittner said by the end of voting Wednesday, 8,505 people or 27 percent of the county's registered voters had cast ballots.

That was three times as many voters as cast ballots there in the entire early voting period in 2008, when 9 percent of Rusk County registered voters cast early ballots.

"At the Kilgore (early voting) branch on Peterson Road we had a line all day yesterday and still have a line today," Wittner said. ".. For the entire election in 2008, 59 percent of the registered voters participated. I feel confident we will end up above that."

In addition to the presidential race and the race for U.S. Senate between Henderson native Paul Sadler and Ted Cruz, Rusk has several local races drawing lots of attention, Wittner said, including races for sheriff, county commissioner, Henderson mayor and school board.

In Gregg County, 24,370 people cast early ballots through Wednesday representing 35 percent of Gregg County's registered voters. The only locally contested race on Tuesday's ballot in Gregg County are two propositions in Lakeport to legalize the sale of liquor. All other local races were determined during party primaries.

Harrison County Elections Administrator Dan Teed called the early voter turnout there of 13,404 people through Wednesday - about 32 percent - amazing.

"We have seen a lot of heavy turnout especially during week one," Teed said. "We've had record numbers every day. During week two, we've had record numbers in the western part of the county particularly."

Even in Upshur County, with no locally contested races on the ballot, early voting has been brisk, said Upshur County Deputy Clerk Greg Dodson.

Through Wednesday 5,615 people had cast early ballots there, he said.

Dodson estimated total early voter turnout in Upshur County would top 7,000.

Early voting ends across the state at 7 p.m. today.



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