Both Harrison and Marion Counties saw a record turnout for the first day of early voting, Tuesday, in the Nov. 3 General Election.
“Marion County is on course to have its largest first day of early voting ever,” County Judge Leward LaFleur announced on his Facebook page Tuesday morning, noting that a vote had been cast nearly every minute the polls had been open.
“We have never had lines before like we have had today,” Marion County Clerk Vickie Smith told the News Messenger.
Smith said Marion County kept a constant stream of voters since the doors opened at 8 a.m.
“Our total turnout for today was 449,” Smith said at the end of the day. “(It was an) awesome day for Marion County.”
Smith noted that they didn’t experience any issues with the voting system, which is an all electronic system.
“Everyone was kind, courteous and waited patiently,” she said.
For Harrison County, the line at Marshall’s main elections office, at 415 E. Burleson St. was stretched all around the building with voters also patiently waiting to cast their ballots in what’s deemed to be the largest election in history — boasting not only the presidential election, but state, county, city and school board matters, as well.
Voter Lillian Banks was one who stood in line for nearly three hours to cast her ballot in what she says is a critical election.
“I came at 8:25 a.m.,” said Banks. “The line was wrapped around. I finished voting at 10:59 (a.m.),” she said as she happily showcased her “I Voted” sticker.
While glad to see the high voter engagement, Harrison County Democratic Party chair, Maxine Golightly, wasn’t pleased with some hiccups that caused a bit of a delay.
Golightly said she was notified early Tuesday morning of equipment malfunctioning at the Gold Hall early voting location in Hallsville.
“Each piece of equipment, before it leaves this office, is supposed to be tested,” said Golightly. “Hallsville’s ballot box didn’t work this morning.”
Golightly said personnel in the elections office weren’t immediately reached when she called to address the matter.
“I was told eight people actually left without voting,” she said of the Gold Hall location.
She said the elections administrator did bring another ballot box to the location shortly before 9 a.m.
Golightly also expressed her disappointment in the uneven number of early voting workers, per political party.
“There’s 18 early voting workers. It’s supposed to be balanced,” she said. “They had five Democrats at the ballot box.”
County resident, Earnol Brewster, said his wife was discouraged after the main elections office ran out of paper ballots for those voting in Precinct 10.
“They told her it’d be two or three days (to get more paper ballots),” said Brewster. “They tried to get her to vote on some old equipment, but couldn’t tell her how to use it.
Brewster said he expected there would be some hiccups, but didn’t anticipate it happening on the very first day of early voting.
“She waited a long time in line, too, to be told that,” he said. “They didn’t have any paper ballots for Precinct 10. It makes no sense, (considering) everybody foresaw it’d be a big turnout.”
Calls and emails to the Harrison County Elections Office for comment on the concerns were not immediately returned, Tuesday.
Early voting continues today through Oct. 30, with a weekend option as well at the main elections office.
The seven early voting polling places for Harrison County are: Waskom sub-courthouse, 165 W. Texas Ave.; Harleton Community Center, 4335 Community St.; Hallsville’s Gold Hall Community Center, 101 E. Elm St.; ESD No. 9 in Elysian Fields, 130 Farm-to-Market Road 451; Woodland Hills Baptist Church, 2105 E. Loop 281; Karnack’s T.J. Taylor Community Center, 15642 Farm-to-Market Road 134; and the Harrison County Main Elections Office at 415 E. Burleson St. in Marshall.
Early voting will take place at all of the early voting sites from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. now to Oct. 16, Oct. 19-Oct. 22 and Oct. 26-Oct. 29. Extended early voting hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, which are both on a Friday.
The weekend option at the elections office, only, will be Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 25, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.