Voters came out to the polls in droves Monday, casting their ballots on the first day of early voting.
By mid-day more than 3,000 voters had cast their ballots in Bell County, yielding a high turnout comparable to the first day of voting in the 2008 presidential election, said election administrator and County Clerk Shelly Coston.
For the next two weeks, registered voters can cast their ballots at any early-voting polling location in their county.
“We have had a very strong turnout today in all areas of the county,” Coston said Monday. “I believe it is generally high simply because it is a presidential election.”
Coston, who administered the election for Bell County in 2008, said she expected this year’s first day of early voting to reach the 2008 first-day voter turnout of 6,137 voters.
“In 2008 the numbers were comparable to what they are now,” Coston said as the voting numbers trickled in from the six early-voting locations in Bell County.
Monday’s voters made their choices just hours before the third and final debate between presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Ron Decker, 63, a retired Army veteran, said he would not be influenced by the debate.
“I made up my mind years ago,” Decker said.
Decker said he was attracted to early voting because of the shorter lines and shorter waiting times.
“If you go on Election Day, you will be here all day,” Decker said outside of the Killeen Community Center. “I go early, there’s not such a long line.”
Voting is estimated to take between three and 10 minutes, but for enthusiastic voters, such as William Nelson of Killeen, the vote will last for four long years.
“The presidential election is the most important because it sets the mode for everybody in the U.S.,” Nelson said.
“This election here decides if we’re going to the up and up or just go back to the same old.”