Early Voting Numbers Expected to Rise

Early voting begins today in Texas and officials in Harris County predict an increase in ballots being cast before election day. One local expert says some voters might still find it difficult in making a decision that's right for them.
Harris County clerk Beverly Kaufman says early voting numbers could reach a half million before all is said and done.

"Four years ago, we voted close to a million voters in Harris County, and 37-percent voted early. There's no way we're not going to have at least as many people vote though, as we did four years ago, so we expect a million voters-plus to participate in this election, either by mail, in person early, or on election day combined."

Any registered voter in the county can cast a ballot at any of the 36-early vote polling places. On November 4th, you can only vote in your precinct. Kaufman says presidential candidates are the greatest catalyst for turnout in an election.

"We have a full ballot. We've got federal, state, and county officials down the ballot, a large ballot in this big jurisdiction of ours, but it's hard for candidates to get attention, because everybody's focused on the presidential election."

Tate Barkley: "Voting is a privilege and it is a right, but along with that, there is a responsibility"

Attorney Tate Barkley teaches communications law and ethics at University of Houston.

"The Republicans have what I think is a really great candidate. The Democrats have a great candidate too, but they had an unknown quantity, unlike John McCain. The McCain campaign and Senator Obama himself made a very real point of not highlighting the fact that he would be the first black president, but of saying we need change."

Barkley says President Bush's declining popularity is hurting the Grand Old Party and fueling the sentiment for change.

"I think that a lot of folks are going to vote as just not Bush or it's just not, perhaps even a Republican, so I'm going to vote for Barack Obama. But at this moment in time, it appears that Barack Obama personally has risen to the challenge of being acceptable enough, credible enough and trustworthy enough."

Barkley thinks McCain could still pull it off if Obama plays it too safe.

"He needs to continue to act like he's the underdog, to continue to advocate those things about helping the middle class and helping the working class. If he plays it too safe, he'll lose."

Barkley is author of Successful Ethical Decision Making: Get What You Want Without Getting in Trouble .

Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.
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Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...