Early voting begins Monday

Ready ... set ... vote!Crossroads residents will get the chance to have their democratic voices heard in a number of local, state and national elections, as early voting gets under way Monday morning in the Howard County Elections Administration Office.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., Monday through Friday, until early voting wraps up Friday, Nov. 2.According to Elections Administrator Saundra Bloom, her office will be ready to help voters cast their ballots first thing Monday morning.“All of the work with the ballot and that sort of thing is done, so we're ready to go,” Bloom said. “The set up in the elections office will be a little bit different this year, since we're going to have 10 early voting booths set up. However, I feel like we're ready to get things under way.”Voters will have only one local race to decide the fate of, as the Precinct 1 seat on the Howard County Commissioners will be 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 will be aimed at Big Spring balloters, as the municipal government looks to give voters the chance 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.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 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 and Thursday, Nov. 1,” Bloom said. “We'll also be opening the polls Saturday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. 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 simply can't leave work to vote, or don't have enough time on their lunch breaks.”The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Friday, Oct. 26, according to election officials.Bloom and her election officers are bracing themselves for what is expected to be a large turnout, spurred mostly by the presidential contest, which has been heating up and grabbing headlines leading up to the Nov. 6 election.“Almost everyone who came in to register to vote said they were doing so because of the presidential contest,” Bloom said. “It's definitely driving this election. We've registered 427 new voters Since Aug. 1, which is really an astounding number.”For more information on early voting, contact Bloom at 264-2273.