Election clerks sort through voter data in this 2008 file photo.
Howard County election officials say early voting totals are down compared to the 2006 contest, but are hopeful for a strong turnout Tuesday when polls open at 7 a.m.
By mid-Friday, early voting totals were almost 500 ballots down compared to the 2006 general election, according to Howard County Elections Administrator Saundra Bloom, accounting for approximately 17 percent of the registered voters in the county.
â€śWe had hoped for a stronger turnout in early voting,â€ť Bloom said. â€śWhen the polls opened Oct. 18, we had a pretty brisk stream of voters coming in and casting their ballots. However, things tapered off some for several of the days during early voting. Oct. 21 we only had 245 ballots cast in the office, and we collected 253 ballots Oct. 25.
â€śEven though we failed to meet the numbers established in the 2006 election, I feel like we've done pretty well overall. The 2006 general election included the bond issue for the new jail, which was a very hot topic. During this year's election we haven't had an races that were quite so polarizing, which could help explain the decrease.â€ť
With early voting now in the history books, Bloom said she and her staff are turning their attention to Tuesday, with polls set to be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for election day.