By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

Secretary of State Esperanza "Hope" Andrade toured Central Texas county clerk offices Monday to evaluate the preparedness of the voting systems and to provide help, if needed, to any of the area agencies.

She said it's difficult to properly articulate the massive effort it takes agencies to prepare for an election of this magnitude, especially since more people are voting this year than ever before.

But, she said, Bell County is looking good.

Both campaigns in the House District 55 race have expressed concern over the voting system set down by the county election office regarding the special election. Because of the early retirement of Dianne White Delisi, who had held the seat about 18 years, the state requires a special election be held to cover the period between election day and January, when the new term's winner will be sworn in.

That election will be held on election day, Nov. 4, and will be at the top of the ballot.

Election Clerk Jana Henderson said the county made that decision because fewer people would vote if it was at the bottom.

Following a tour from County Clerk Shelley Coston and County Judge Jon Burrows, Andrade said it's up to the counties, and she's going to defer to their judgment.

"I think that's a local decision that was made," Andrade said. "I think as long as people know about it, they can make a difference on that."

Early voting begins Oct. 20 and will go until Oct. 31. The polls will be open until 8 p.m., an extra hour, the last week of early voting, so that as many people can vote as possible early.

This year's 13.4 million registered voters eclipses the record from 2004 when the state had 13.1 million.

Andrade's director of communications, Randall Dillard, said he expects that number to go up in the next week by a slight margin as they continue to get registrations. This year, the state set a record in the primary with 4.2 million people casting a ballot, a figure which beat a 20-year-old record. Those high numbers were seen in Bell County as well, as more people than ever voted in the most recent primary by a large margin.

Andrade said the numbers this year only underscore the importance of voting early.

Because of the expected turnout, Andrade said people should vote early if they don't want to wait.

"People even have weekend voting available," Andrade said. "I think Texas has made sure that we give every Texan who wants to cast a ballot the opportunity to vote."

Contact Justin Cox at or (254) 501-7568.

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