After a steady turnout of about 900 ballots per day last week, the Killeen Community Center — one of Bell County’s six early voting locations — was inundated with 1,252 voters on Saturday.
The single day of voting has been the highest turnout in Killeen since voting began on Oct. 22.
“I spoke with my officials at the Killeen Community Center and they were experiencing very high turnout on Saturday,” Bell County’s chief election administrator and County Clerk Shelley Coston said.
”Whether people were out shopping or running errands or just enjoying the absolutely gorgeous day, there’s really no way to know.”
Weekend turnouts have been historically strong, Coston said, as voters find more time to get out to the polls after the work week is finished.
When polls closed Sunday in Harker Heights 3,900 voters had cast their ballots. Belton had recorded 5,574, Salado 1,666 and Temple 7,046.
Early voting will continue this week with extended hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. through Friday.
Counties with populations higher than 100,000 — such as Bell County but not Coryell or Lampasas counties — must maintain extended hours during the second week of early voting, according to the state’s election code.
Coston said that the extra hours will serve those whose work schedules conflict with regular voting hours.
“I believe that it is a very convenient time, especially for people that get out of work at 5 p.m. ” Coston said. “Those are two very busy times.”
When the polls closed Sunday, 31,430 ballots had been cast in Bell County, 2,000 fewer than the number cast at end of the first week of voting in the 2008 presidential election.
By the time the polls closed Sunday in 2008, 33,173 people had voted in Bell County.
In Coryell County, turnout has grown slightly since 2008, said Justin Carothers, Coryell County tax assessor and chief election administrator.
As a result of population growth, polls in Coryell County were open during the first weekend of early voting for the first time.
In the 2008 general election, 5,276 had voted by the end of the first week of voting — which was only five days.
When polls closed Sunday in Coryell County, 5,444 had cast their ballots.
“It’s about what we expected,” Carothers said. “We’ll see if in the end there is a difference.”