Jefferson County experienced unprecedented voter turnout on Monday, Oct. 20, with nearly 5,700 Southeast Texans casting their ballots – a total that beats the 2004 general election by more than 2,000 votes.
"Early voting is going extremely well," said County Clerk Carolyn Guidry during a phone interview. "It's a record turnout … that far exceeds any turnout by 2,000 votes in a presidential election."
Only 3,500 Jefferson County residents voted early in the 2004 general election, compared to this year's 5,628 turnout.
"I never remember having a first day like this," Guidry said. "We have been preparing for this election for a year."
Guidry credits the high turnout to all the excitement being generated by presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.
"We are seeing a lot of first time young voters," Guidry said. "We've also seen an increase in college students applying for mail-in ballots this year."
Guidry said she expected another 5,000 early voters to cast their ballots on Tuesday.
To help regulate voter traffic, the county added two additional voting locations this year – bringing the total to 11.
"With 11 early voting locations you can stop in … and vote anywhere in the county," Guidry said, adding the she would encourage people to vote early and avoid long lines on Election Day.
Guidry also said the county is prepared to hire extra people if the need arises.