by ANDY SEVILLA
Nearly 24,000 Hays County voters have cast a ballot within the first eight days of early voting in an election that has showcased a contentious presidential race and will decide a slew of national, state, and local offices.
Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan said Hays County has 104,436 registered voters, up from 90,073 in the 2008 general election. The first eight days of early voting means almost 23 percent of registered voters went to the polls early.
The last day of early voting is this Friday.
Registration voter numbers have reached an all-time high of 13,646,226 in Texas, according to Secretary of State Hope Andrade’s latest report. Her office said the previous record number of registered voters was 13,557,062, set for the 2008 election that concluded with the election of the nation’s first black president.
During the first week of early voting, Hays County brought out 21,049 voters to the polls, and another 2,669 voters came out on Monday, which begins the last five days of early voting.
Cowan said a breakdown of early voting numbers for the 2008 election was not immediately available, but she said 39,780 voters cast a ballot early in that election, and 20,211 came out on Election Day.
Cowan said she expects the same trend for the 2012 general election, and said about two-thirds of the voters will cast a ballot early.
In 2008, 59,991 ballots were cast or 66.6 percent of registered voters. Cowan said she expects about 70,000 ballots will be cast this year because of the 14,363 increase in registered voters. She said the increase is registered voters is due primarily to the county’s growth.
Cowan said that 23,718 Hays County voters have cast a ballot by personal appearance as of Monday, and her office has mailed 3,820 ballot requests. She said the election’s office has received some of the mailed ballots and more were still coming in the mail and not yet counted as of Tuesday.
Early voting in Texas began Oct. 22. Election Day is Nov. 6.