The March 1 primary election is coming up Tuesday, but it will be a little anticlimactic for me, since I’ve already voted.
In fact this election, I did something I’ve never done before: I voted on a Sunday.
The experience seemed oddly out of place. My wife and I went to church, then went to lunch, then off to the Harker Heights Recreation Center to vote.
Still, it worked out well, since the Sunday poll times were extremely convenient for both of our schedules.
It was raining as we got out of the car to go into the Rec Center, and when we reached the room where the voting was taking place, we were the only people in line.
Judging from the sign-in sheet, it had been a slow day at the polls, with only about two dozen ballots cast as of 2 p.m. I checked the daily numbers online the next day and discovered a total of 38 people voted at the Rec Center on Sunday.
Considering the polls were open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., that’s only about three people an hour.
God bless those dedicated election workers.
Yet, even though the turnout was light in Killeen and Harker Heights on Sunday — just 109 people turned out at three polling sites — early voting is becoming increasingly popular.
Part of Sunday’s light turnout may be because most people weren’t aware the polls were open on the Sabbath — despite plenty of mentions in local media, including daily listings in the Killeen Daily Herald.
But as of Wednesday night, more than 11,500 voters had taken advantage of early-voting hours across Bell County.
Two years ago, in a non-presidential election year, just over 8,000 Bell County residents voted early in the primary — nearly as many as the 8,634 who waited until Election Day to vote.
For me, it’s taken some time to come around to the appeal of early voting.
For years, I was an election purist, doggedly determined to cast my ballot on Election Day, no matter how busy I was, and no matter what the weather. I just felt that’s the way “real” voters were supposed to act.
But early voting is hard not to like, especially since it gives voters so many options.
For one thing, a Bell County resident can vote early at any one of six polling sites in the county. That’s really convenient if you’re on your lunch hour and your office is far from your home.
Also, the hours for early voting have been expanded to make voting more accessible to people with just about any schedule.
The first week of voting was 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but then the hours expanded to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for both weekend days — hence my Sunday voting experience.
Polling sites have been open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. all this week, but today is the final day, so anyone who hasn’t voted yet should get to the polls.
Of course, if you miss out on early voting, you’ll have another chance to vote on Tuesday, when polls will be open again from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters likely will have to return to the polls on May 24 for runoff elections in races where no single candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote. With a three-way sheriff’s race in Bell County and a six-candidate race for the District 24 seat in the Texas Senate, runoffs are almost a given.
In the meantime, voters in Killeen and Heights will have municipal and school board elections to contend with on May 7.
And yes, both of those elections will accommodate early voters as well.
So vote early and vote often, as they like to joke in Chicago.
It’s election season, and there’s no excuse not to participate to the fullest — even on Sundays.
See you at the polls.
Dave Miller is deputy managing editor of the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7543.