From campaign ads on video games to candidates appearing on "Saturday Night Live," the unique 2008 presidential race has election officials anticipating high numbers of voters heading to the polls.

To beat the Nov. 4 crowds, the Texas secretary of state is encouraging citizens to take advantage of early voting, which began Oct. 20 in all 254 Texas counties.

"I encourage voters to take advantage of the convenience afforded by the early voting period," said Secretary of State Hope Andrade in an Oct. 17 press release. "We anticipate a large voter turnout for the general election. By voting early you can avoid the long lines we expect to see on Election Day. My office has worked with county officials across the state and they are definitely prepared for such an important election."

During early voting, voters may vote at any early voting location within their county (see polling locations and sample ballot attached).

The 13.4 million registered voters in Texas will not only cast their vote for president, but for a variety of judicial positions, including three spots on the Texas Supreme Court.

Voters are reminded to bring their voter registration certificate with them to the polls to expedite the voter check-in process; however, if their registration certificate is unavailable, the voter will still be allowed to vote with a valid I.D.

In Jefferson County, early voting locations include the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont and the Sub-Courthouse in Port Arthur and several recreation and community centers throughout the area.

The week of Oct. 20-24, polls will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. the week of Oct. 27-31. Weekend hours will be noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26.

"It is our goal to ensure that every election in Texas is fair and credible and we believe that on November 5th, we will proudly look back on Election Day as a positive experience," Andrade said.

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