Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Double the early vote

A total of 39,201 votes were cast Monday in Harris County, a record turnout almost double that of 2004's first day and one that was mirrored across Texas. The precise total of ballots case in the state's 15 most populous counties will not be known until today, but the number certainly will eclipse the 145,000 from four years ago.

I lined up at my usual early voting location, the Fiesta supermarket on South Main -- nearly in the shadow of Reliant Stadium (and next to the old Astrodome) -- at 1:30 p.m yesterday. I guessed that there must have been at least two hundred people ahead of me.

That has never been the case before, not even during the primary in March . I have never waited more than about ten minutes to vote (though when my wife cast her primary ballot on the only Saturday of the early voting period, she had to wait about thirty minutes).

Across Harris County, the scene ranged from subdued to circuslike as thousands of citizens lined up to vote. Some arrived hours before the polls opened, drawn, they said, by national crisis and a sense of history.

"Our ancestors died for us to be in line this day," said Bernadette McWilliams, who joined about 100 others in a largely African-American group waiting for poll doors to open at Palm Center in the 5300 block of Griggs Road.

Read the full piece about the heavy turnout across Texas, as well as the problems reported with voting machines.

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