October 20, 2008
Early voting, Day One: Very busy

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.

We ought to be able to see where these people voted tomorrow. That will tell us a lot more than just the gross numbers. For comparison purposes, here's a Google spreadsheet of that breakdown from 2004. By my calculation, 9377 votes were cast in Democratic (as of 2008) House District locations, while 10,938 were cast in Republican HD locations (I'm not counting the 553 cast downtown as either). It's a rough guide - precinct and voter history info will be much better - but let's see how that compares to this year when we see it.

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.

Thankfully, we have PDiddie for that:

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.

I spoke to someone today who said, about three-quarters jokingly, that he was going to vote as early as possible just in case he got hit by a bus before Election Day. Whatever your motivation, make sure you vote, and make sure your family and friends do as well.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 20, 2008 to Election 2008

The county is turning an old 99-cent store into a community center near my work (Wirt Rd) and its first purpose is to be an early voting location. At noon, there were about 60 cars in the lot. But at 2:20, it was FULL, more like 80-90 cars. Silly me, I thought that'd be a dead time... I'm waiting until Thursday, I think.

Posted by: katy on October 20, 2008 10:44 PM

I voted at Preston downtown. The line was medium length, but I was in and out in about 20 minutes, compared to about an hour at the West Gray MSC for the primary. The best thing about Preston is that it is within walking distance for most of the folks in downtown.

Posted by: Noel Freeman on October 21, 2008 2:47 AM
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