North Texas voters flock to early voting spots

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on October 22, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 23 at 7:02 PM

Early voting in Texas got off to a strong start in North Texas on Monday.

At one of the busiest early voting spots in Dallas, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on Park Lane, voters stood in line.

The heavy turnout was not a surprise for local elections officials. Dallas County is extremely close to matching voting totals on the first early voting day from 2008.

On Monday 32,000 ballots were cast, with two locations not yet reporting, compared to 34,000 in 2008.

Tarrant County beat its 2008 first-day early vote totals with 29,920 voting Monday. In 2008, there were 28,757.

And in Collin County, 16,417 citizens cast ballots on the first day of early voting.

For Collin County voters, this will be the first presidential election test of its voting centers. That's where registered voters can cast a ballot at any voting center location.

Collin County voters love to vote early. In the last presidential election, 2008, nearly 52 percent of all ballots cast in Collin County were tallied during the early voting period.

This year, look for that percentage to go higher because of the added convenience. During early voting, Collin County has 25 locations where voters can stop in cast their ballots.

"The voters can just go anywhere based on convenience — whether they're shopping, they're at work, closer to work, they're — you know — visiting family, actually close to their home," said Elections Administrator Sharon Rowe.

And voters were ready on this first day of early voting, spilling outside the elections office.

The Collin County voting centers started in November, 2009 and use only voting machines — no paper ballots.

Rowe said the county is ready for the larger turnout in a presidential race. "I wouldn't want to do it as the first election ever to try as a vote center in a county this large, because we do have good turnout," she said.

Collin County will open 67 voting centers on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, which means no more confusing search for precinct locations for voters. That's a relief for Rowe and her staff.

"It means there is no provisional voting for someone at the wrong precinct, which is wonderful," Rowe said.

In 2008, Collin County was second in the state among big metro counties in early voting turnout, just behind the Houston suburb of Fort Bend County.

When early voting ends, voting centers could push Collin to number one.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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