Harris County Braces for Record Turnout

The day before Election Day is a busy one for Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman and her staff. She says the 2008 election has been a record setting event. Pat Hernandez has more.


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image of opening mail in ballots Mail-in ballots are carefully opened and bar codes are aligned ready to be scanned for official documentation. Over seventy-six thousand mail-in and overseas ballots were sent — the largest to date. Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman says she is happy to see this day finally come.

“I’m very happy. I’ve had a countdown clock on my desk for months, and it’s down to zero and a few hours.”

She says it’s been an excellent early voting experience, lead by over seven hundred fifty-thousand people casting ballots early and a larger than normal, but successful ballots-by-mail program.

“Flexibility is very important. We again, tried to communicate with the voters so that they are very equipped to conveniently take advantage of their right to vote. There were so many nuances to the science of the election process, so many ‘what ifs’, that we have to constantly keep ourselves trained up and aware, so that were are implementing voter laws properly and protecting everyone’s rights.”

Precinct judges have picked up supplies and the machines have been delivered. Kaufman says the good weather should result in another record turnout at the polls.

“I believe that the seven hundred fifty-thousand  early voters reflect half of the overall turnout, and that we’ll see another seven hundred fifty-thousand voters show up on Tuesday at the 728 individual precinct polling sites that we will open at 7 am.”

She is convinced that there will be a line when polls open because people will be casting ballots before they go to work.

“Those lines should shorten in the middle of the morning and the middle of the afternoon so, if you don’t have to go vote at 7am, wait awhile. Things should get better. The most important thing that we have to emphasize to voters on election day is you must vote in your precinct where you are registered only. You don’t have flexibility to go to another location.”

image of scanning mail in ballotsDriver’s licenses aid in helping to identify voters as residents of a precinct. Kaufman says contact will be made with the registrar’s office to double check on the status of registration.

“But you help us a whole lot, moving the line along if you come in with your coral-colored voter registration card.”

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.

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