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Turnout steady in 1st week after brisk start to early voting

Turnout steady in 1st week after brisk start to early voting

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Long lines experienced on the opening day of early voting for the Nov. 3 election thinned as the week went on, but even after five days of voting, the pace has been steady.

Voters wore masks, grabbed lawn chairs and waited their turn to cast a ballot in one of the most anticipated elections in recent memory.

The coronavirus pandemic — itself a major issue during the presidential campaign — is only one of the reasons voters have experienced long waits so far. This is the first general election since a new state law did away with straight party voting, meaning each race must be voted on individually. The pandemic also delayed the May municipal and school elections to November, adding to an already lengthy ballot.

McLennan County Election Administrator Kathy Van Wolfe predicted 65% of McLennan County’s 148,884 eligible voters will turn out for election.

Through the first four days of early voting, McLennan County turnout had already hit almost 18.5%, with 19,612 ballots cast in-person and 7,886 cast by mail. Another 5,073 voters cast ballots in-person Saturday, bringing turnout to 21.9%, but mail-in totals for Saturday were not immediately available.

Voters have 13 more days of early voting after Gov. Greg Abbott extended the period by a week to help facilitate social distancing and reduce long lines on Election Day in light of the pandemic.

Early voting locations include McLennan County Elections Administration Office, located in the basement of the Records Building, 214 N. Fourth St., Suite 300; the Robinson Community Center at 106 W. Lyndale Ave.; the Waco Multi-Purpose Community Center, 1020 Elm Ave.; First Assembly of God Church, 6701 Bosque Blvd.; and Hewitt City Hall/Library, 200 Patriot Court. Voters may vote at any of the polling locations.

Polls are open from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 24, 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 25 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 26-30, the close of early voting.

In the 2016 presidential election, 54,895 people voted early, representing 68% of the total ballots cast.

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