Early voting

Roughly 3,000 voters showed up to vote early this week, some waiting up to an hour while following health precautions.

As voters turned out in record numbers across Texas this week, more than 3,500 Anderson County residents showed similar eagerness. More than 3,500, or 12% of the county’s 29,272 registered voters cast ballots by early Friday afternoon. Texas polls opened for early voting for the Nov. 3 election Tuesday through Friday.

By Friday afternoon, the Anderson County elections office reported almost 3,000 votes cast in person, while more than 700 were received by mail. Of the county’s 58,000 residents, about one-half are registered to vote. About 19% are younger than 18, according to U.S. Census data, and are therefore not eligible.

In nearby Cherokee and Navarro counties, which have roughly the same number of registered voters, poll turnouts were higher, totaling 16% and 14%, respectively. In Houston County, roughly 17% of 13,000 registered voters cast their ballots by Friday. 

Smith County, which has roughly 150,000 registered voters, counted 15% of votes by Friday afternoon. Statewide voter turnout was 2.5 million, a total of 15% of all registered voters.

Some voters waited in line up to an hour earlier in the week. Lines began on the sidewalk outside the Anderson County Courthouse Annex at 703 N. Mallard St. and wound through the entryway. 

County officials enforced several health safety precautions, with spots marked for social distancing, door signs stating masks were required for entry, and a hand sanitizing station outside the polling room. 

Inside the polling room, workers wearing masks sat behind tall plexiglass barriers. Voters received a single plastic glove for signing an electronic keypad and sat in carrels spaced several feet apart. A worker in the back of the room collected and sanitized pencils.

Dawn Briggle of Palestine, who voted Wednesday morning, said she felt protected by the polling precautions, and observed others following them, too. 

Briggle said she and her husband typically vote every two years on election day, but decided to vote early this year to avoid missing the chance in case of an unexpected infection or quarantine.

“We do typically wait until election day, but this year we felt it was important to vote early,” said Briggle. “It seemed to be an uncertain time to wait and vote on just one specific day.”

Sample ballots are available outside the polling room and on the county’s website, www.co.anderson.tx.us.

All registered voters are eligible to vote early, but must bring a voter registration card and one of seven forms of identification. Early voting continues 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The last week of early voting, the polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Oct. 26 to 28, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 29 to 30.

The deadline for registering to vote was Oct. 5. Applications for mail-in ballots for registered voters are still available and must be received by Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Residents can check their registration status and request mail-in ballots by calling the county’s Elections Administrator, Casey Brown, at 903-723-7438.

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