‘No problems’ reported by area voters

Herald/MARIANNE LIJEWSKI - Two community members stand outside the polling location at St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church Parish Hall Tuesday in Harker Heights. Voter turnout was low across Bell County.

By Kim Steele

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - Bell County Clerk Shelley Coston didn't mind having a slow election day Tuesday.

"There were no problems, and it was a very quiet day," she said as election judges carried bags of supplies into the election headquarters in Belton. "From my perspective, no news is good news. It was very quiet all across the county."

By 8 p.m., Coston was predicting that all returns would be in by 9 p.m., and a steady stream of election judges kept her hopeful. The final two precincts reported their results at 8:50 p.m., proving Coston correct.

Coston said her department received few calls Tuesday from voters with questions. The biggest question was about the need for voter identification cards, which Coston said aren't required until January.

On the ballot

The recall of five Killeen City Council members was a factor in some voters' decisions to head to the polls.

"I am a regular voter but I made sure I came out today because of the city council members recall," said Renee Smonko of Killeen.

Killeen resident Tonya Waters votes regularly but said with the recall on the ballot, she made an extra effort to vote and support it.

Some of the constitutional amendments on the ballot were of particular interest to voters, said Coston, especially Propositions 1, 6 and 10.

Richard Jouett of Killeen said Proposition 1 was one of the first things that got his attention because of his mother. The proposition would extend 100-percent-disabled veterans' homestead tax exemption to their surviving spouses.

"I want to make sure my mom gets a break if my dad dies," said Jouett.

Despite reported problems with residents in Precinct 405 receiving incorrect ballots during early voting, Killeen resident Steve Munson said voting in the precinct went fairly well on election day. He didn't find the ballot confusing or hard to understand, but thought there were some overly technical tax terms.

"Maybe they should clarify those in the paper so people know exactly what to vote for," he said.

Coston said she didn't hear any complaints about the amendments.

Voter turnout

While Munson was proud of Killeen for being a part of the political process, he said he was disappointed there wasn't a bigger voter turnout.

"I consider voting important," said Munson. "If people don't voice their opinion, they have nothing to complain about. If people have strong opinions, they should show up."

Voting in Copperas Cove saw its high points in the morning and early evening hours.

"The ballot process was pretty good, but I prefer paper to machines," said Rafael Fajardo, Copperas Cove resident. "Last time I voted on a machine, it was a little troublesome. Voting is important, and I want to take the time to look at my ballot."

Heavier voter turnout in the evening was encouraging to some voters.

"I've been here since 1995, and this is the first time I've seen a line to vote," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Wyss, a Fort Hood soldier. He reported a 25-minute wait to cast his ballot.

"If we don't vote, we don't have a right to complain," Wyss said.

Coston said early voting results for Tuesday's election were similar to those in the 2009 constitutional amendment election. Then, there were 6,150 votes; this year, the total was 5,702. The same applied to regular voters. In 2009, there were 13,718 votes cast; this year, the total was 11,409.

"This type of election doesn't generate a big turnout," said Coston. "So I'm happy with anything we can get."

Herald writers Krista Madkins, Rose Thayer and Audrey Spencer contributed to this report.

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