More than 5,000 cast early ballots

With early voting in this year's general election completed, officials with the Howard County Elections Administration office are turning their attention to Tuesday, when area voters will have one last chance to cast their ballots.According to Elections Administrator Saundra Bloom, her office has tallied nearly 5,600 ballots for early voting's two-week run, accounting for nearly 34 percent of the registered voters in Howard County.“It was definitely a good run for early voting,” Bloom said. “We opened really strong with 617 voters casting their ballots in person and another 18 received by mail the first day. The second day was also busy, with 580 ballots in person and 16 by mail. Things slowed down just slightly by mid-week, however, with 491 ballots Wednesday and 487 on Thursday. The end of the first week finished strong, however, with 534 ballots Friday and another 194 Saturday. By the end of the first week we had counted 3,355 ballots, both in person and by mail.”Bloom said the second week of early voting was a bit more erratic than the first.“This past Monday opened somewhat slower than I expected, with 347 ballots cast in person,” Bloom said. “However, Tuesday it picked back up with 514 votes. Things slowed down again Wednesday, with only 277 ballots, but they picked back up Thursday with 542 ballots. Thursday's jump brought the total up to 5,098, 30.14 percent of the 16,914 registered voters in Howard County. Voter turnout is just one of those things you really can't forecast on a day-to-day basis.”Voters have only one local race to decide the fate of, as the Precinct 1 seat on the Howard County Commissioners is contested with long-time Democratic incumbent Emma Brown facing 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.The only other local issue on the ballot is aimed at balloters living within the Big Spring city limits, as the municipal government is giving voters the 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 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 with voter approval. With a Type B corporation, no such vote from the public 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 the election, contact Bloom at 264-2273.