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Early voting to end Friday; election Tuesday

By Chris Moore

chris.moore@panews.com

Friday marks the end of early voting in Texas and turnout in Jefferson County has reached fever pitch. The first day turned in 7,097 votes, which has been the highest day of the early voting cycle.

County Clerk Carolyn Guidry said the increased turnout has already exceeded the turnout from 2014 gubernatorial election.

“We’re really getting into almost presidential numbers, but we’ll see,” Guidry said. “These last two days are normally the heaviest early voting days. It’s possible for those numbers to be right there at Friday afternoon. On the last day, we have seen numbers at polling locations double.”

The second day of early voting netted a turnout of 6,374 ballots cast.

Rogers Park in Beaumont has been the most active of the polling locations with a total of 12,627 votes cast, which is more than twice as much as Hughes Library in Nederland, which had the second highest total of ballots with 6,241.

“Rogers Park has always been our heaviest voting area,” Guidry said. “It is a good central location for the west end and the north end (of Beaumont).”

Guidry said turnout has been heavy for the Nederland location and local elections in Port Neches and Groves have driven people to the polls.

Reports of straight-ticket ballots being changed have spread over the Internet, but Guidry said she concurs with Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos that the errors were due to user actions.

“I think what was happening is that once the voters were making their selections, they would select again to confirm the choice,” Guidry said. “Once you select it twice, it really deselects what you have done. That’s why we always ask our voters to check your summary page. That’s what it’s there for. You can review all you want to make sure that each selection is correct.”

Guidry said it is also important to not leave the voting booth until you see the American flag, which indicates the ballot has been cast.

“If a person leaves the booth before they see the American flag, and they leave the booth, even if they fully filled out their ballot and have the summary page up, an election worker cannot press the ‘cast ballot’ button for them. That is illegal. What they have to do is cancel their votes.”

Guidry said people should not be intimidated by the large voter turnouts because many races are close and every vote counts.

“It’s definitely going to matter in these local elections,” Guidry said. “Even if they don’t count in local races, they might be big in state races. You never know what that accumulation is going to do. We just need people to come out and vote. That’s the only you can make sure your voice is heard.”

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story said early voting ends Saturday. It ends Friday.