Weatherford Democrat

Local News

February 29, 2008

Parker County voters poised to break record

Early voting totals approach 10,000 for first time in recent memory

Galen Scott

Poll sites swarmed with voters into the evening Friday, as the last day of early voting for the March 4 joint primary elections drew to a close.

Approximately 10,000 people, or one-seventh of all the registered voters in Parker County, visited one of six early voting locations in what may be the largest early vote turnout for a primary election in the county’s history.

Based on a cursory look at historical voting records and the collective memory of 20- and 30-year veteran election workers, acting Parker County Elections Administrator Robert Parten said this year marks the highest primary turnout for both Republicans and Democrats.

“It looks like by the end of today, we’re going to be right at 10,000 votes,” Parten said Friday afternoon. “That’s a lot.”

While considering the best allocation of voting resources for the joint primary, Parten said he planned for 50 percent voter turnout, much higher than the 26-30 percent prediction he said came from the state Friday.

“The way I set this up was, ‘Okay, what if this is the biggest primary in the history of this county?’ I based it on 50 percent turnout, which I knew in the beginning was going to be high, but if you’re going to be wrong, you need to be wrong on the good side,” he said.

Based on 720 total minutes during the 12-hour period polls are open on election day, and the time it takes the average voter to make up his or her mind, Parten allocated seven voting machines for voting precincts with more than 2,000 registered voters.

Precincts with fewer registered voters will have proportionately fewer voting machines, and a number will be reserved as back-ups.

Thanks to Parker County’s tradition of holding joint primary elections, there are more voting machines available in counties where the contests are held separately, Parten noted.

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