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Final-day voter registrations surge in Gregg County

By Glenn Evans
Oct. 9, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Voter turnout was brisk Tuesday in Longview, as Gregg County residents beat the deadline to register to cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election.

"I just turned 18 not too long ago, and I thought it would be cool this year because I'm kind of getting independent," newly minted voter Katie Alexander said outside the Gregg County Elections Office where she had just registered. "It was easy. I'm hearing that a lot of people will be voting. It's important that everybody has a say-so in what happens in the U.S."

Gregg County Elections Administrator Kathryn Nealy reported steady turnout for Tuesday's deadline.

"We've had lines out the door all day long and between three and 10 people in the office," Nealy said around 2:30 p.m. "I would say it's at least 500. They're calling. We're telling them this is it. This is the last day."

Nealy said "a few a day" had been the pace this past week at the elections office in the Gregg County Courthouse. She credited local news reports of Monday's deadline for the sharp uptick in registrations.

Voter registrars in Harrison and Upshur counties reported a similar, last-minute surge in sign ups.

"It looks like we're surpassing the number of active voters from 2008," said Harrison County Elections Administrator Dan Teed. "That's amazing."

Teed said "easily a couple hundred" voters had signed up on deadline day. The previous day, he set up seven stations at the East Burleson Street elections office in anticipation of Tuesday's rush.

He also noted that 95 deputy voter registrars had been active in recent weeks getting people ready to cast ballots.

"There are a lot of people out there registering people," Teed said. "There has been a tremendous amount of interest."

Texas' voter ID law is not in effect for this election cycle as it continues to encounter setbacks in court.

State elections also faced a challenge in a new law asking voter registrars to compare voting rolls against deaths reported by the Social Security Administration. That bureaucratic hurdle angered voters in Houston and elsewhere when they received mail asking them to prove they are alive.

Teed said voters arriving to renew their registration offers a chance to verify their names on voter rolls.

"We're having an opportunity to check whether people who register are on the roll to vote," he said.

Teed also noted several deadline registrants were changing addresses from out-of-state locations.

So did Pam Dean, who is deputy in charge of voter registration for Upshur County Tax Assessor/Collector Sherron Lamineck.

"We have quite a few that are out of state that moved to the county," Dean said, noting about 60 people registering in person Tuesday. "I think it's more hectic (than 2008).

"Many people are just double-checking and making sure they are registered to vote," Dean said.

Early voting for the general election is Oct. 22 through Nov. 2.



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