Less than 5% of registered voters in Wharton County had cast ballots when the midterm primary election opened Tuesday morning.
“It was very slow,” Wharton County Elections Administrator Cindy Richter said Tuesday morning. “I think it will get better, there is a constant flow now. I think they took the time to read and then walked out.
Consistent with the county’s trend, Republican ballots outnumber Democratic ballots by about four to one at local polls during the early voting period.
“There are still a lot of voters there. We hope they come out,” Richter said.
An additional 70 voters had voted in an advance poll by 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Wharton County has 25,710 voters eligible to vote in the March primary election.
The highest number of single-day early votes so far in this election is 223. Only 23 ballots were cast on Saturday and 32 on Sunday.
Overall, more early ballots were cast in the Wharton poll with 494 collected when polling opened on Tuesday. The El Campo survey collected 455 during the same period and the East Bernard survey 138.
Most of the top challenges appear on the GOP ballot with contested races for state representative from district 85, state senator from district 17 and candidate from congressional district 22.
The Senate and congressional districts are new to voters in Wharton County who were relocated following redistricting this summer, making incumbents almost as new a candidate as challengers for office.
People come to the polls daily to pick up sample ballots, according to Richter, to familiarize themselves with the names and issues before choosing to vote.
The only local race is for county treasurer where Audrey Wessels Scearce takes on Christa Lynch Albrecht on the GOP ticket. In the absence of a Democratic challenger, the primary will decide who will take office in January.
In the primaries, the voter must decide which ticket or ballot they want – Republican or Democrat. The candidates are vying for the nomination of this party and must obtain 51% of the votes to advance to the general elections in November.
In a race with several, if a candidate does not collect 51% of the votes, the first two voters proceed to a second round.
Multi-party voting is not allowed before the November general election.
The early turnout this year is comparable to that of the 2018 midterm elections. Of the 24,839 voters registered that year, 2,501 chose to take advantage of early or postal voting for the primaries.
In the 2014 midterm elections, 3,853 early ballots were cast by 24,675 registered voters.
The First Ballots are located at the El Campo Library – Mayors Hall, 200 W. Church; Wharton County Appendix D, Classroom 116, 315 E. Milam in Wharton; and the East Bernard Library, 746 Clubside.
Polling stations are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Wednesday, February 23. Early voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all locations Thursday, February 24 and Friday, February 25.
Election Day voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1.
Polling stations will be located at:
El Campo: El Campo Library – Hall of Mayors, 200 W. Church; El Campo Civic Center – Myatt Room, 2350 N. Mechanic; and St. Roberts Parish Hall, 512 Tagner.
Wharton: Wharton Civic Center – Duncan Auditorium, 1924 N. Fulton.
Rural area: Justice of the Peace Courtroom 3, 340 West North in Louise; St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, 6902 FM 442 in Boling; East Bernard Library, 746 Clubside; and the Hungerford Fire Station, 8018 Houston,.