by BRAD ROLLINS
Hays County is on course to hit a turnout record if voters maintain a pace set during the first three days of early voting.
Who to vote for
» The Texas League of Women Voters’ “Vote411” app lets you plug in your address and see which races will appear on your ballot. That could come in especially handy this year when just about everything has changed due to redistricting. Visit Vote411 here
As of the close of polls Wednesday, 9,750 residents have voted at early voting locations and 3,500 have voted by mail for a total of 13,250. That’s 12.7 percent of Hays County’s 104,000 registered voters.
In 2008, the previous record-setter, 39,780 people voted during the entire two weeks of early voting. Total general election turnout that year was 59,991, or almost exactly two-thirds of the 90,073 registered voters at the time.
With nine days of early voting left — including 12 hours of voting at seven locations across the county on Saturday — Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan says more people will likely vote this year than ever before.
“We have substantially more voting and we have substantially more sites. It’s been like an Election Day every day this week as far as the number of phone calls we have coming in from people trying to find out where to vote, if they’re registered,” Cowan said.
A seasoned political observer, Cowan said intensified interest seems to be clearly driven by the pitched battle between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney and, to some degree, by county’s three new U.S. Congress and two new state senate districts. In eastern Hays County, for example, San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz is the Republican nominee against U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett for the new CD-35.
San Marcos is seeing most of the local action with three contested city council races, including that of the mayor. Municipal offices and three referendum questions on the acquisition of riverside parkland appear at the end of the ballot, after U.S. president and a hierarchy of federal, state and county offices.
In solidly Democratic Pct. 1, Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, a Democrat, faces a challenge from Republican nominee Mary E. Gonzales, a party-switching perennial candidate.
Another newly minted Republican, Stephen Velasquez, is on the ballot against Pct. 1 Constable David Peterson, who beat Velasquez in the Democratic Party primary in 2008. Meanwhile, Joanne Prado, one of two Pct. 1 justices of the peace, has an opponent in Amy Lea Akers, the GOP nominee.
Despite the overall uptick in voter interest, turnout is markedly down at the LBJ Student Center at Texas State, the most obvious indicator of whether the erratic student vote is on the move.
In 2008, an average of 800 people a day cast ballots on campus during four days of early voting there; with three of four days of Texas State balloting completed, the daily average is 611.
Hays County early voting | 2012 General Election
|Monday, Oct. 22|
|Hays County Government Center||574|
|Hays County Pct. 4 Office (Dripping Springs)||788|
|Live Oak Academy (Hays High, Kyle/Buda)||506|
|First Baptist Church (Wimberley)||220|
|LBJ Student Center (San Marcos)||533|
|Old Elections Administration Office (San Marcos)||333|
|Wimberley Community Center||602|
|Tuesday, Oct. 23|
|Hays County Government Center||552|
|Hays County Pct. 4 Office (Dripping Springs)||679|
|Live Oak Academy (Hays High, Kyle/Buda)||413|
|First Baptist Church (Wimberley)||212|
|LBJ Student Center (San Marcos)||589|
|Old Elections Administration Office (San Marcos)||250|
|Wimberley Community Center||549|
|Wednesday, Oct. 24|
|Hays County Government Center||439|
|Hays County Pct. 4 Office (Dripping Springs)||634|
|Live Oak Academy (Hays High, Kyle/Buda)||465|
|LBJ Student Center (San Marcos)||711|
|Old Elections Administration Office (San Marcos)||235|
|Wimberley Community Center||466|
|EARLY VOTING TOTAL||9,750|
COVER: ERIK HERSMAN FOR THE TEXAS TRIBUNE