By Sean Wardwell
Killeen Daily Herald
Early voting in Bell County has kept steady with past trends, according to Bell County Clerk Shelley Coston.
A total of 5,702 ballots have been cast since early voting began on Oct. 24 - a 4.8 percent decline over 2009 totals of 5,976 early ballots.
"We're going to come pretty close to totals we had in 2009," said Coston, shortly before early voting ended Friday.
Constitutional amendment elections that aren't tied to a presidential election traditionally have low turnout, according to Coston.
However, the upcoming recall election in Killeen, a vote on civil service for firefighters in Copperas Cove and a bond proposition in Temple have driven people to the polls.
"That's what brought the voters we do have out," said Coston. "If you simply had the constitutional amendments (on the ballot), the turnout would be low."
For most of early voting, Killeen and Temple have been neck-in-neck for ballots cast. In Killeen's two early voting locations, 2,062 ballots were cast. Yet, Temple slightly bested Killeen, with 2,189 ballots.
In Belton, 672 ballots were cast, Harker Heights saw 359 voters at the polls, and Salado generated 245 early ballots. Additionally, there were 36 mail-in ballots.
Aside from some minor confusion in an unannexed area of Killeen, located in Precinct 405, there haven't been any difficulties with voting so far. Some voters in that area initially expressed confusion as to why the Killeen council members under recall were not listed on the ballot they received.
However, once their addresses were verified by election workers as being eligible to vote in the recall, they were given the correct ballot.
"No news is good news, from my perspective. We haven't really had any problems or issues," said Coston. "It's been a very quiet two weeks for us, which is good news."
Now, the clerk's office is preparing for election day, but Coston said residents should not be prepared to see significantly higher voter turnout until the 2012 presidential election.
"We're going to see numbers way beyond what we're seeing now. That's the trend," said Coston.
Election day is Tuesday. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A full list of area polling sites will be included in Sunday's Herald.
Early voting totals
Early voting began Oct. 24. Here's a look at the total number of ballots cast in Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties:
Harker Heights: 359
Copperas Cove city: 1,040
*Copperas Cove county: 824
*Indicates voting totals as of Thursday evening. See Tuesday's Herald for the final early voting totals.