VOTING GETS OFF TO FAST START

Early turnout fills local polls

Voters head into the Kilgore Community House Monday morning on the first day of early voting. Kilgore's polling station saw 427 voters Monday, 401 by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Meanwhile, 848 people voted at the Rusk County elections office Monday, another 185 at the Precinct 4 substation.
Voters head into the Kilgore Community House Monday morning on the first day of early voting. Kilgore's polling station saw 427 voters Monday, 401 by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Meanwhile, 848 people voted at the Rusk County elections office Monday, another 185 at the Precinct 4 substation.
NEWS HERALD photo by JAMES DRAPER
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"We normally see these numbers on the last two days," Gregg County Elections Administrator Kathryn Nealy said Tuesday, floored by the high polling numers being reported by various stations.

Two weeks of early voting kicked off Monday, and it was quickly clear there was going to be an "unusual" turnout, Nealy said.

It's a similar story in Rusk County, where election officials saw 12 percent more voters at the poll on the first day of 2016's early voting compared to day one in 2012. There were 848 residents who cast ballots at the Rusk County Elections Office along with185 at the Precinct 4 substation Monday; Tuesday was on pace for the same turnout.

"It's flowing good, but they are having to wait," one elections employee said. "I'm looking now, and they're standing outside the door. It's been that way."

Add in mail-in ballots, and Rusk County had 1,867 decisions in by Monday evening.

In Gregg County, about 8 percent of 69,965 registered voters had cast ballots by 5 p.m. Tuesday. That included 828 at the Kilgore Community House on Kay Street (427 on Monday, 401 on Tuesday) and 771 in Liberty City at the old Sabine Elementary School cafeteria (471 and 300 on Monday and Tuesday, respectively).

"It's unusual for us to see this many voters come the first two days," Nealy said. She has a working theory about the turnout: "In the primary, we prepared a lot of early stations and nobody was really ready to vote early. They had not made up their minds for early voting in the primary, so we had a huge turnout on election day.

"Obviously, this time more people have their minds made up because they're voting early. That's just my guess: they must have their minds made up early this time.

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