Record turnout for first day of early voting in Liberty County

County employees at the Liberty County Elections Administration Office were busy Tuesday with the first day of early voting. Pictured is Doc Sikes, one of the employees.

By the time polls closed on the first day of early voting in Liberty County, 1,420 people had cast their ballots. According to Liberty County Elections Administrator Klint Bush, that is a county record for the first day of early voting.

“People are very excited about voting this year. We have some hotly-contested races, maybe not so much in Liberty County, but people are still voting,” Bush said.

In Cleveland, Dayton and Liberty, voters filed into long lines that stretched outside. The heavy turnout wasn’t the only challenge for the poll workers, who first had to sort out which ballot to print for each voter based on where they reside. This year’s election in Liberty County has a whopping 80 different ballots styles, some of which was caused by city and school elections being reset from May to November due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the ballot styles require multiple pages to be printed when voters present themselves at the polling locations. The city of Liberty, for instance, has a four-page ballot due to home rule charter elections, Bush said.

“The polling judges are doing a good job of handling all the people. Some of them didn’t even get to eat today because they were inundated,” Bush said. “That’s an issue I hope to correct tomorrow by putting more people there to help out.”

Another hiccup in the process was caused by people being omitted from the voting list. This is the result of people only voting in presidential year elections.

“It creates a little havoc in the voter roll. People expect us to have a good voter roll but if people vote infrequently, they get dropped off the list over time,” Bush said. “That ensures the roll integrity and makes sure that people who have died aren’t still listed.”

The last day to register to vote was Oct. 5 and the elections office had close to 1,000 last-minute registrations, Bush said.

“We have one person to enter all of that information in the system,” he said.

Overnight, the Elections Administration Office is updating its system to fix some issues that arose on the first day, Bush said, adding that he promises the second day of early voting should go smoother.

The four early voting locations in Liberty County are:

  • Cleveland Civic Center, 210 Peach Ave., Cleveland
  • Hardin City Hall, 142 CR 2010, Hardin
  • Dayton Community Center, 801 S. Cleveland St., Dayton
  • Jack Hartel Community Building, 318 San Jacinto St., Liberty

Early voting hours appear to be a source of confusion, Bush said, as people watching the evening news in Houston assume the poll locations in Liberty County share the same hours of operation. Bush said that is not the case.

Liberty County early voting locations have the following hours:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 13, through Friday, Oct. 16 – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 20, through Friday, Oct. 23 – 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 24, and Monday, Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 27, and Wednesday, Oct. 28, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 29, and Friday, Oct. 30, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you miss an opportunity to vote early, you will have to show up on Election Day, Nov. 3, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. On Election Day, you are NOT required to vote in your precinct as the County now has voting centers. You may vote in any of the following locations on Election Day:

DISTRICT ATTORNEY RACE LEFT OFF BALLOT

Another issue that arose on Tuesday was the omission of the incoming Liberty County district attorney from the ballots. Jennifer Bergman of Cleveland won that race in the March Republican primary and, having no Democratic challenger in the fall, was a shoo-in. While other unopposed candidates were listed on the ballots, her name was left off.

“My name should have been on the ballot,” she said.

Bergman discovered the problem when family members and friends went to vote on Tuesday.

“My cousin took my elderly aunt to vote today and my aunt was completely upset that my name was not on the ballot,” Bergman said.

As the first female district attorney in Liberty County, Bergman was looking forward to seeing her name on the ballot.

“Who wouldn’t want that?” she said.

The omission on the ballot wasn’t the only problem, however. Her race was never certified as the Secretary of State is the only authority who can do that, she said.

“The county elections office cannot certify district races. It wasn’t a problem that the county election administrator could fix,” said Bergman. “I fixed it today with the help of an attorney friend and the Secretary of State’s office. It would have eventually been resolved but it would have been more arduous after the election or later in the election cycle. I am glad we got it fixed on the first day of early voting.”

Voters who enter the polls might see a notice from the SoS advising them of the omission (see below). Copies of the letter were posted at the four polling locations today by the Liberty County Elections Office.

“This is no way affects her status as being elected. She will still be the DA. The SoS has affirmed that. We have apologized multiple times for the error,” Bush said.

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