By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
The second day of early voting proved Bell County voters have a keen interest in the outcome of the 2008 election.
Tuesday's early voter turnout nearly matched Monday's single-day record for Bell County as the polls closed with a final tally of just under 6,000 for the day.
The final numbers Tuesday ended at 5,965, nearly equaling Monday's 6,141 votes. After just two days of early voting, 12,740 people have cast a ballot.
The record for early voting in the county was set in 2004 when 48,000 people voted early. With two days in the books and nine remaining until the early voting cutoff Oct. 31, this year's numbers have already reached one-fourth the record.
The Temple County Annex continued to be the most popular of the six early voting locations across the county, drawing 1,398 voters Tuesday, 139 more than on Monday. Killeen's Community Center also eclipsed Monday's numbers with 1,079, 29 more than on Monday.
Add those to the Killeen County Annex's 850 on Monday, and another 1,929 voted in Killeen for a combined Killeen count of 3,848 after two days. The Harker Heights Recreation Center drew nearly as many as Monday, posting 686; Belton had 996, one more than Monday.
Last March, the primary election drew a record 41,000 voters. Election Clerk Jana Henderson said she ordered double that number of ballots.
Henderson said that she's given specific instructions and classes to staffers to avoid any confusion when voters walk in.
Part of that confusion lies in the special election vote in the hotly contested and highly publicized House District 55 race between Republican Ralph Sheffield and Democrat Sam Murphey.
Henderson said that since the special election for the two-month unexpired period is first on the ballot, she's instructing every staff member to tell every voter that the one that matters is on the back of the ballot.
Several election judges, including Colleen Rhoads at Harker Heights, noted that they get used to saying it over and over. "We've been very careful to point it out to every voter," Rhoads said Monday. "We called their attention to the fact that the special election was before, and that they needed to fill that in no matter what, whether they voted straight party or not."
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday. They will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
During the last five days of early voting, Oct. 27-31, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The polls will then close and open again on Election Day, Nov. 4.
Residents can vote in any of the six polling locations in the county during early voting. On Election Day, however, they have to vote at one of the designated 49 precinct locations.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568.