Fresh from the County Clerk's office:
As of 6:51 pm on Oct. 20th 2008, the Harris County Clerk's early voting statistics showed that 39,201 persons had been processed for voting in Harris County on the first day of early voting in-person for the Nov. 8th 2008 election. In the 2004 Election, a total of 20,868 persons were processed during the whole first day of early voting in-person. That is an 87.8% increase compared to the first day of early voting in-person in 2004.
I have not yet voted. I drove past the West Gray multi-service center on my way to work, before the polls opened, and there was a long line already. I wandered by the Fiesta on Kirby and OST later in the day to check it out, and the line stretched all the way across the store and then some. I may try again later this week around lunchtime, or I may wait till next week and aim for 7 AM one morning. How was your experience?
On a related note, we finally surpassed 2004 in voter registrations in Harris County.
The count of registered voters stands at 1,950,300, about 8,000 more than for the presidential election in 2004, according to Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, the county voter registrar.
Bettencourt had predicted that registrations for the Nov. 4 election would top 2 million, but has since lowered his forecast.
Although early voting started today and the deadline to register was Oct. 6, Bettencourt's staff is still processing applications and sending them to the Secretary of State's Office in Austin for final approval.
More than 13,000 applications have not yet been processed, Bettencourt said, and a large portion will not result in new voters being added to the rolls because the forms are unintended duplicates or address changes for voters already on the lists.
But some newly registered voters may not be on the computerized lists of eligible voters available today at the county's 36 early voting stations.
Those voters can cast a provisional ballot today -- meaning their votes will be set aside until the county verifies their registration status -- or come back later during the 12-day early voting period or on Election Day.
Election workers may not be telling some voters about all of their options, however.
I'm going to do a little shouting now.
If your name does not appear on the voter roll when you go to vote, PLEASE DO NOT FILL OUT A PROVISIONAL BALLOT. Leave the polling place and call this number: 1-866-OUR VOTE (687-8683).
This is also why you should vote early; so that if there are "issues" with your registration, they can be cleared up -- hopefully -- in time for you to cast a ballot that counts (with at least as much faith as we are able to place in electronic voting systems, anyway). You don't want to be experiencing this circumstance at 6:45 p.m. on Election Day.