GALVESTON – Hurricane Ike's floodwaters may have damaged numerous residences and businesses and rendered thousands of residents homeless a couple of months ago, but they did not impede the surge of voters at the polls on Election Day.
Galveston County election officials are reveling in what they call a historic and phenomenal election, stating early voting numbers have risen since the previous presidential election.
Like many places across the state and the nation, Galveston County boasted high turnout figures during the early voting period of Oct. 20 – Oct. 31 despite the ubiquitous damage from Ike and loss of many polling places in Galveston.
The Galveston County Clerk's Office says about 70,000 people cast their votes as opposed to 65,000 in 2004.
Many of those who participated in early voting were Galveston residents displaced by the Category 2 storm, officials said.
Galveston County's pre-Election Day numbers were enough to earn Galveston County a place among the Texas Office of the Secretary of State's Top 15 counties with the highest early voting figures.
Galveston County went on to amass a total of 189,357 registered voters out of more than 100 precincts.
When it came to picking the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Galveston County stayed in the red as it did in 2000 and 2004 as 61,844 votes went to Republican contender Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Democratic nominee and eventual winner Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois trailed by roughly 20,000 with 41,543 votes. McCain, who picked up Texas, maintained a 10,000-vote lead over Obama in early voting.
In local elections, three Galveston County District Court judges were voted to new terms on the bench.
Republican Lonnie Cox will continue to preside over the 56th District Court while Democrats David Garner and Wayne Mallia retain their seats in the 10th and 405th District Courts, respectively.
Cox, who ran on a "law-and-order" platform, was the only candidate with an opponent in Susan Baker, a former three-term Galveston County District Court judge.
He appeared to have more than 8,000 votes, including a 6,200-vote lead in early returns, according to a cumulative county election report released the afternoon of Nov. 5.
Garner and Mallia each received 60,000 votes to earn re-election.
A few attorneys with offices in Galveston also ran for public office this year.
Former Galveston City Council member Joe Jaworski, who practices maritime law, failed to wrestle the District 11 state Senate seat away from incumbent Mike Jackson of La Porte.
Craig Eiland, another maritime law lawyer, defeated a Libertarian candidate to keep his seat in the Texas House of Representatives.
The Galveston County Daily News reported in its Nov. 5 edition that Eiland plans to run for Speaker of the House should complete state results show a Democratic majority in the House.