Polling places in Beaumont attract different crowds

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 6, 2008, 6:13am

Long lines abounded everywhere throughout Beaumont during early voting, but the lines vanished on Election Day.

During early voting, a total of 63,879 Jefferson County residents cast ballots at 11 different polling locations. Election Day brought out only an additional 24,993 voters. A total of 88,831 votes were cast throughout the election process, a turnout rate of 58.61 percent of the 151,568 registered voters in the county.

Although voter traffic was light on Nov. 4, each precinct brought in varying crowds.

The anticipated flood of voters was more like a trickle at many of the polling places Tuesday morning in Beaumont's West End.

Throughout Tuesday morning, lone voters came and went every few minutes at Vincent Middle School, Caldwood Elementary School and the Beaumont Independent School District Administration Building.

"We haven't had any lines, but it has been steady," election clerk Gilbert Garza said of the turnout at Caldwood. "There have been no problems; it's been going very smoothly."

Beaumont's residential West End has been a Republican stronghold in recent elections, and several voters questioned confirmed that trend.

A couple leaving the polls at Caldwood, who did not give their name, told the Record they had voted a straight Republican ticket.

"The tax issue made up my mind to vote for McCain," the man, who is in his 60s and employed as a manager, said. "And we just don't like hearing 'share the wealth' from Obama. We don't like hearing that at all."

"I will just say it, I just don't like Obama or his policies," the woman, a housewife, said. "I don't trust him."

Stephen Hecht, a 36-year-old beer salesman, said he also voted a straight Republican ticket.

"I'm pretty conservative," Hecht said. "I really just didn't agree with Obama's viewpoints."

At Marshall Middle School on Dowlen Road, around 800 people had voted.

Election judge John Clayton said most of the voters came after noon.

One voter, who gave his name as Jared, said he cast his ballot for John McCain. He added that he voted for several Republicans in judicial races, but mixed in "a few Democrats."

On the other side of town, there were no lines at the Jefferson County Courthouse, save for the voters who turned up at the wrong precinct and were waiting for election officials to tell them where to go.

One polling official told the Record that from 7 to 9 a.m. only 15 people had voted at the courthouse, but at least 40 people who lived outside the precinct mistakenly showed up to cast their ballots.

She also said people became confused because they can vote at the courthouse during early voting but do not realize they must report to their precinct on Election Day. The courthouse is the polling location for Precinct 11 residents.

From 9 to 10 a.m., the Record counted at least 20 people who were turned away because they came to the wrong precinct. Also, only four people actually voted during that time period.

Most people polled at the courthouse said they voted straight Democratic ticket.

First time voter George Carter told the Record he came to the courthouse to vote only for one man, Barrack Obama - electing not to participate in any judicial contests.

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