|Early voting’s 1st day turnout up 50 percent from 2002|
|Bruce Alsobrook | News-Telegram Editor|
Oct. 24, 2006 - Early voting has gotten off to a strong start locally, according to reports from the Hopkins County Clerk's Office.
A total of 209 votes were cast in person in early voting Monday, the first day that voters could fill out ballots in this year's election.
The numbers aren't as high as in 2004, when more than 400 votes were cast on the first day. But that was a presidential election year, which traditionally brings out more voters.
Four years ago — the last off-presidential election — early voting only brought out 139 people on the first day, meaning Monday's turnout was a 50 percent increase from 2002.
Anyone can vote early in Texas elections. Prior to 1992, absentee balloting laws placed restrictions on casting votes before the general election day. Current laws allow any and all registered voters to mark the ballots in an early voting period.
This year's election is expected to see a higher turnout in the county simply because there are more contested races for local offices than usual.
That includes the race for Hopkins County Judge, pitting Democratic incumbent Cletis Millsap, who is seeking his third term, against Republican challenger Jason Cunningham
One other race, for Hopkins County Court-At-Law, has a Democratic incumbent facing a challenge from a Republican Party nominee. Current Court-at-Law Judge Amy McCorkle Smith, a former assistant district attorney who was elected court-at-law judge in 1996, and Republican nominee Eddie Northcutt, a local attorney.
The third local race is for a new Hopkins County Treasurer to replace Betty Bassham, who announed last year she would retire. The candidates are Republican Party nominee Cheryl Fulcher, coordinator for Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Robert Newsom, and Democratic Party nominee Treva Watson, who is the assistant county auditor.
The race for state representative between incumbent Democrat Mark Homer and Republican challenger Kirby Hollingsworth is also on the ballot.
The two faced off in 2004 when Homer won a fourth term in the state House of Represenatives, defeating Hollingsworth by 24,167 votes to 23,854 in the District 3 race, which includes Hopkins, Delta, Franklin, Lamar, Red River and Titus counties
Hollingsworth took 6,274 votes in Hopkins County to 5,210 for Homer.
Early voting continues weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday Nov. 3 in the clerk's office at the courthouse annex facility at 411 College St. Early voting will also be held 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29.
The clerk's office will also continue to accept applications for a ballot by mail through Halloween.
The final day of voting in the general election will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, at polling places across the county.