In the past nine days, well over 8,500 people in Lamar County have cast their vote for the general election.
With less than one week left in an election that seems to have become a kind of caricature of itself, many Lamar County residents cite a desire to get the process over with, and the uncertainty of what election day might bring– in the form of long lines and hectic personal or work schedules– as their prime motivator to get to the ballot box early.
But turnout has waned since Saturday, with daily totals now dropping below 1,000. Lamar County Elections Administrator Tricia Johnson said that one reason for the drop is that many people think early voting is over.
“Some people think we’re finished voting. They think (the last day) was either last Friday or Sunday,” because early voting typically occurs in the final two weeks of October, Johnson said.
But election day falls later this year, which gives voters until 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4 to vote early. (Election day falls on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November)
During the first week of early voting for this election, turnout was several hundred people above the daily totals from the 2012 election. Only 5,712 people had cast their ballots at this point in 2012.
As of Wednesday, the total number of votes are at 8,762, setting the county on a path to break it’s past record for early voting.
In the 2008 general election, a record high of 9,468 voters opted for early voting. The next presidential election in 2012 came close to that number with 9,277 people voting early. If the current trend continues this year, as many as 10,000 people could cast their ballots before election day on Nov. 8.
That’s impressive given the voting history in Lamar County, but when considering the total population or even the total number of registered voters, these numbers begin to look as dismal as they really are.
Lamar County Election Data
What’s more, a total of 18 candidates are running for public office without a challenger, meaning more than half of those on the ballot already have the job.
This reality reflects the notion– and should drive the point home– that if voters want to have a say in local elections, they have to show up in March and vote during the primaries when virtually every local candidate is chosen.
Voters can still vote before election day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 and Friday, Nov. 4.
Those who do not possess one of the seven types of photo identifications required by a state law can still vote by filling out a reasonable impediment declaration form explaining why they’re not able to obtain a photo ID, and by providing one of the following documents:
- a valid voter registration certificate
- a certified birth certificate
- a current utility bill
- a government check
- a paycheck stub or bank statement that includes the voter’s name and address
- any other government document with a voter’s name and address
Those who do have a valid photo ID, but either do not wish to present it or do not have it on their person, can still vote by casting a provisional ballot and returning to the Elections Administration office within six calendar days of the date of the election with a valid photo ID, one of the documents listed above, or a permissible exemption.
However, VoteTexas.gov advises that those voters who do possess a valid ID, but refuse to provide it as proof of their identity may have their ballot rejected by the ballot board.
Provisional voting also allows a voter who may have been left off the voter registration rolls– generally, through administrative error– to still cast their vote. It is then the duty of the elections administrator to determine where the error lies and whether or not the ballot will be counted.