Election administrators are expecting a high voter turnout this weekend, as residents find the time to vote early in this year’s presidential election.
“Saturday is typically a strong turnout,” Bell County Clerk Shelly Coston said. “People just want to get out and get it over with.”
During early voting — to be held every day until Friday — voters may cast their ballots at any polling location in their county. Today, Bell County polls will be open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
This year’s early-voter turnout, which is always high during presidential elections, has lagged slightly behind the 2008 presidential election, Coston said.
“We are running fairly strong, 4,500 each day,” Coston said.
In 2008, the turnout was closer to 5,000 per day.
“I think that this election has a lot of meaning and the people want to be a part of it,” Coston said.
Over the past decade, election administrators have seen a gradual shift in popularity from Election Day voting to early voting.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to vote in-person before Election Day.
During the 2008 presidential election, the final early voting count in Bell County was 63,748, compared to the 26,913 who cast their ballots on Election Day, Coston said.
“In my opinion, the early voting opportunity generates much higher turnout,” Coston said.
Statewide in the 2008 presidential election, 65 percent of ballots were cast during early voting, according to the Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade.
Anticipating a busy Election Day on Nov. 6., Coston said the process will take about 10 minutes per voter.
“We had anticipated the enactment of the voter ID law, but that didn’t go through,” Coston said. “The regular requirements for voter ID will be required.”
Election administrators prefer voters bring their voter registration cards.
Other acceptable identification includes a driver’s license, military ID, U.S. passport or any ID issued by the Department of Public Safety.