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Inclement weather doesn't dampen voter enthusiasm

Nov. 3, 2010

Daniel Cernero | Photo Editor
Houston senior Jenna Petitt walks through a puddle to vote Tuesday at a polling location behind the Texas Rangers Museum.

By Nick Dean
Editor in Chief

Rain or shine, local party officials say early voting, dissatisfaction and determination may have pushed the overall voter turnout of McLennan County higher than expected for the 2010 midterm elections.

Mid-day Tuesday it began raining in Waco and temperatures dropped, but the weather didn't stop supporters and voters from participating in this year's midterm elections.

Members of the Baylor Democrats participated in last-minute efforts Tuesday to bolster support for Rep. Chet Edwards, who conceded his seat Tuesday night to Bill Flores. From canvassing neighborhoods to calling community members and urging them to vote, the group's members trekked through rain and cold to help their candidate.

Houston senior Lizzy Joyce, president of the Baylor Democrats, said the inclement weather made the group's support efforts more difficult, but it did not deter them.

"We were persevering and working through it," Joyce said. "We had panchos and rain boots, so we're prepared to work."

McLennan County Democratic Party chairman Karen Petree said the weather didn't bother canvassers or voters.

"It had stopped a few people at 3 o'clock but overall turnout was not affected," Petree said.

"[The turnout] is much stronger than we thought. The weather stopped some canvassers for about 30 minutes but no one was stopped totally."

Of the 55,000 votes cast in McLennan County, 29,706 were early votes, or 54 percent of the total votes.

"We recommended that they vote the first day of absentee voting because there are too many things that could happen. The weather will impact some people and some of the older people may decide just not to go out," M.A. Taylor, vice chairman for the McLennan County Republicans, said. "It looks like more people than usual took advantage of early voting. The weather may have less of an impact because the folks got out early and did vote."

In 2006, early votes constituted only 39 percent of the votes in McLennan County, meaning that the county has seen a nearly 15 percent increase in early voting.

"I think it is very encouraging that the numbers are so good," Taylor said. "That means more people were interested in voting, to me.