Early balloting going at rapid pace

Averaging approximately 500 ballots a day so far during early voting, election officials say Howard County is on track to collect upwards of 10,000 voters in this year's general election.According to Howard County Election Administrator Saundra Bloom, her office has averaged approximately 500 in-office voters a day since early voting opened Monday — a whopping 617 Monday, 580 on Tuesday and 491 recorded Wednesday — with no signs of slowing.“The voters have definitely kept us busy this week,” Bloom said with a laugh. “However, we expected a turnout somewhat like this. We knew going into early voting it was going to be a heavy turnout, especially with a presidential election in the mix.”Bloom said she expects to have collected approximately 10,000 ballots by the time the polls close Nov. 6.“Things have been going smoothly,” she said. “We haven't had any problems with the voting machines, although I imagine they are getting pretty tired, right along with the election workers. I'm very pleased with the way things are going. We hope the turnout will stay strong next week, as well.”Polls will be located in the elections office — located on the third floor of the county courthouse — and will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., this week.In addition to the regularly scheduled poll hours, Bloom said her office will be offering several days with extended hours in hopes of giving everyone in the community a chance to cast their ballot early.“Early voting polls will be open until 8 p.m. today and Thursday” Bloom said. “We're hoping these extended hours will give residents who work from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. a chance to vote early and avoid the lines and waiting on Election Day. There are a lot of folks out there who can't leave work to vote, or don't have enough time on their lunch breaks.”Voters will have only one local race to decide the fate of, as the Precinct 1 seat on the Howard County Commissioners is up for grabs with long-time Democratic incumbent Emma Brown taking on Republican challenger Oscar Garcia.Brown defeated Howard County Jailer Larry Torres in the May primary, while Garcia defeated local resident Edwin Ware for the Republican nomination for the seat.The only other local issue on the ballot is aimed at Big Spring balloters, as the municipal government looks to give voters an opportunity to do away with the existing 4A economic development in favor of a new 4B economic development corporation.The council approved to send the issue to voters during its Aug. 14 meeting, doing so on a unanimous vote.The EDC sales tax was adopted by Big Spring voters May 5, 1990, and designated solely for use on Type A projects, which is restricted mainly to attracting employers and businesses to the Crossroads area and retaining jobs with existing employers.However, a Type B corporation has much looser restrictions placed on its spending, allowing for several other project types, including quality of life improvements such as professional and amateur sports and athletic facilities, related street, water and sewer facilities and affordable housing.According to Texas law, however, Type A corporations can still approve Type B projects; however, they are required to get the voters approval to do so. With a Type B corporation, no such vote is required.The move to change the corporation to a 4B comes on the heels of a Type B project to revamp the city's water treatment and wastewater facilities, approved in May.For more information on early voting, contact Bloom at 264-2273.