Friday, February 29, 2008

Democratic turnout in early Texas voting worries GOP

FORT WORTH Early voting for Texas’ March 4th primary ended Friday with turnout numbers that shattered all previous records.

The vast majority of those ballots were cast in the Democratic primary, a turnout that gave Republican officials pause in this traditionally "red" state.

A final tally wasn’t immediately available Friday afternoon, but as of Wednesday, about 805,000 people had voted in the state’s 15 biggest counties, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s web site. More than 600,000 of those voters are participating in the Democratic primary.

The numbers far outpace the early turnout in primaries in recent years. In 2000, about 315,000 voters cast early primary ballots in the 15 largest counties. Less than 300,000 cast early ballots in the 2002 and 2004 primaries.

In Tarrant County, approximately 2,100 votes were being cast per hour on Friday, according to Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn. In contrast, only 3,300 people voted in the county on the entire last day of early voting in 2004.

“We have never seen this kind of early voting turnout in a Primary Election,” Raborn said.........

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