Early voting off to slow start

Howard County Elections Administrator Saundra Bloom says early voting has gotten off to a slow start in the May 12 municipal election, a surprising fact considering what's at stake in this year's municipal election.By the way, polls will be open until 7 this evening at the county courthouse.“We opened up Monday with approximately 150 votes,” Bloom said. “Tuesday we had about 126 ballots, which was much slower than what we were expecting. Wednesday was around the same neighborhood. I'm not sure why things are moving so slowly.”Bloom said she had expected early voting to kick off at a much more vigorous pace because of the proposed multi-million dollar 4B project to overhaul the municipality's water and wastewater facilities on the ballot.“There's always the possibility people don't understand the proposition,” Bloom said. “There's also the possibility May's just a busy month. It's hard to say why we aren't seeing the turnout we expected at this point.”Regardless, Bloom said she and her team of election clerks are ready to assist Howard County voters in casting their ballots, whether it's during regular early voting hours or today's extended hours.“Our normal early voting hours are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. here at the Election Administration Office, which is located on the third floor of the county courthouse,” Bloom said. “However, today we are offering extended hours from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., which is designed to help voters who work between our normal hours and can't normally get in here.”Bloom said construction in and around the courthouse area hasn't caused any problems for voters looking to cast their ballots.“There was some concern early on about the construction effecting parking, but it doesn't appear to have caused any problems,” Bloom said. “Most of the construction is dealing with curbs and that sort of thing and hasn't been a problem, so we're very pleased.”Early voting will continue until Tuesday, with election day slated for May 12. The deadline to request a mail-out ballot is Friday, according to Bloom.Big Spring voters have one city council contest — District 4 — to weigh-in on. Bobby McDonald — businessman and husband of incumbent Councilwoman Gloria McDonald, faces off against Loretta Farquhar for the seat. Gloria McDonald elected not to run for another term.Big Spring voters will also be asked to decide the fate of a proposed overhaul of the municipality's water and wastewater facilities using up to $13 million in economic development funding through a 4B project.Members of the Big Spring City Council voted unanimously to have the proposed project placed on the May ballot during their Feb. 14 meeting, a move that drew both praise and criticism from various voices in the community.As part of the agreement between the council and the Big Spring Economic Development board of directors, if voters approve the project the EDC will provide $750,000 a year for the first two years, and then 40 percent of its sales tax revenue — with a floor of $500,000 and a ceiling of $750,000 for the following 18 years — with the city of Big Spring picking up the remainder of the tab.Big Spring ISD has one contested election — District 2. Incumbent Maria Padilla is running against Ed Ware and Pat Deanda.Forsan ISD has two at-large positions, held by Lewis Boeker and Misty Rhoton. Other names appearing on the ballot will be Chris Olson and Beckie Wash. Wash was appointed to the board last month to fill a spot left vacant by Derrick Looney. The position will be for an unexpired two-year term, while the other positions are for three year terms. Early voting will take place at the Howard County Courthouse. Sands ISD will have three at-large positions on the ballot. Incumbents Tommy Staggs and Bill Barnes are running for re-election. Michael Wigington, Wes Higgins, Blayne Archuleta and Matt Snell are also seeking election. Early voting will take place at the school business office. Coahoma Independent School District has three positions — all at large— up for election Brian Moore, board president, Jody Reid and Alan Wright are all incumbents running for re-election. Challengers are Leslie Tindol, Gerald King and Paul Lewis. Early voting will also take place at the Howard County Courthouse.For more information on the upcoming elections, contact the Howard County Elections Administration at 432-264-2273.