Thousands of Central Texans turn out during first day of early voting

Posted at 8:04 PM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:30-04

While thousands of voters in McLennan and Bell Counties participated in early voting on Monday, others do not plan to vote at all.

As of Monday night, a total of 8,153 people had voted by mail and in person in McLennan County. In Bell County, 9,101 voters participated in early voting, including ballots by mail and in person. In Coryell County 1,651 voted on Monday. 

Early vote centers such as the First Assembly of God Church in Waco, saw long lines with a wait time of up to 20 minutes.

Several of the voters News Channel 25 spoke with said they decided to vote before Election Day because of convenience.

Reid Hatch said he voted in advance because he will not be in the area on Nov. 8.

"I'm actually going to be taking a trip during the period of time of the actual Election Day so I won’t be here. That’s what motivated me to do early voting,” Hatch said.

Sally Goldman, another voter who participated in early voting said last time, she missed it and had to wait in line for a while. On Monday, she said the line was long but it went by quickly.

For Hatch and Goldman, it is important to have a say in the election.

"We have a say in what we want and the government we want. I feel that is just an honor and privilege we have as a free nation,” Goldman said.

However, some voters in Central Texas such as Baylor University Senior Seth Jones, don’t plan to vote at all. This would have been the first time he would have been eligible to participate in a presidential election.

"I don't think it's about picking, as I have heard referenced a lot in this election, 'the lesser of two evils,' I think by casting your vote for one candidate, you're saying this person is who I want to be president and I don't want any of these people to be president,” Jones said.

Texas Tribune Reporter Patrick Svitek said if people choose not to vote, that could also impact close races in the state such as the one in the 23rd Congressional District. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican, is facing a rematch with Democratic candidate and former Congressman Pete Gallego.

"Both sides, the Republicans and Democrats, are working to make sure voters are as energized as possible and one of their concerns, I think, is that the race on the top of the ticket, the presidential race, has been so nasty and personal that it may depress more voters and cause them to stay home altogether,” Svitek said.

According to Jones, he thought about the local races before making his decision not to cast a ballot for this election.

“That was one of the hardest things; knowing that I couldn’t participate in that. At the end, it came down to the big picture, the presidential race,” Jones said.

If you are registered to vote, you can vote early before Nov. 4 or on Election Day Nov. 8.

For early voting times and locations in McLennan County, click here. 

For early voting times and locations in Bell County, click here. For information about Coryell County early voting, click here. 

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