Almost 41 percent of McLennan County’s registered voters cast an early ballot for the Nov. 8 joint general election before early voting closed Friday, surpassing ballots cast in the past two presidential elections.

Election Day is Tuesday.

There were 55,424 people in McLennan County who voted early, out of the county’s 136,036 registered voters. The November 2012 presidential election saw about 42,861 early voters in McLennan County, a little more than 33 percent of the 128,686 voters registered. The 2008 presidential election saw 42,924 early voters in the county, almost 33 percent of the 130,428 voters registered.

On Tuesday, registered voters can cast their ballot from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at any of 32 vote centers throughout the county.

The local Republican and Democratic political parties each will hold watch parties Tuesday.

The McLennan County Republican Party’s event will start at 6:30 p.m. at Buzzard Billy’s, 100 Interstate 35 Frontage Road in Waco. The McLennan County Democratic Party’s event will start at 7:30 p.m. at Poppa Rollo’s Pizza, 703 N. Valley Mills Drive, in Waco.

Before early voting totals were released, County Elections Administrator Kathy Van Wolfe said she hopes at least half the county residents who will vote have already cast a ballot, which would mean shorter waits at polling places.

Van Wolfe said anyone in line Tuesday should be patient and know everyone still in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote despite the polls “closing” to any new arrivals.

Even with prominent Republican political leaders dropping their support for presidential candidate Donald Trump, McLennan County Republicans have continued to rally around their party, said Barbara White, McLennan County Republican Party vice chairperson.

“We’ve had a lot of comments from people coming in to the headquarters that they’re disappointed in the leadership in Washington, the ones that haven’t endorsed or supported our nominee,” White said.

But overall, she said, the lack of support from certain leaders in Washington has only fueled the enthusiasm for local Republicans. White said U.S. Rep. Bill Flores and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz continue to support Trump.

‘Teamlike atmosphere’

“We’ve had people come in to volunteer, to do whatever needs to be done — put up signs, drive people to the polls,” she said. “There’s just this excitement and teamlike atmosphere that’s really kind of addictive. It’s really cool to witness it.”

White said the local party has distributed thousands of bumper stickers and yard signs and as of Friday was still getting requests for more.

Locally there has been a lot of excitement for the election, she said, adding everyone is ready for a change.

“The key is turnout. People have to get out an vote. They can’t just assume it’s going to be OK. Even here in Texas, even though we have quite a lead, they need to get out and they need to vote,” White said.

The ballot also includes state and national races, including U.S. Representative for District 17. Flores, a Republican, is vying against Democrat William Matta and Libertarian Clark Patterson.

In the race for Texas Senate District 22, Republican Brian Birdwell is fighting to retain his seat against Democrat Michael Collins.

Republican Charles “Doc” Anderson is vying for his Texas House District 56 seat against Libertarian Clif Deuvall.

Several schools and counties have contracted with McLennan County to hold their election.

Positions on the ballot include council seats for the cities of Moody, Riesel and West. The city of Riesel and Robinson also have local option elections. In Riesel, residents are voting to re-authorize the 1/4 of one percent sales tax for city road maintenance. The sales tax is already collected in Riesel and is not a new tax. Generated revenue from the tax may only be used for street maintenance and repair. The law requires the tax to be re-authorized by the voters every four years.

In Robinson, residents will decide on a proposal to ease restrictions on alcohol sales in restaurants. Voters can cast their ballot for or against the legal sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food-and-beverage license holders.

There are 7,350 more people registered in the county for this election than the 2012 presidential election, and 5,608 more than the 2008 presidential election.

Mary Duty, chairperson of the McLennan County Democratic Party, said she is optimistic Election Day will go as smoothly as the first day of early voting.

Working the polls

The only problems are structural, Duty said. No one knows who is working the polls on Election Day except the election judge, the alternative judge and the bilingual clerk, if there is one, Duty said. Van Wolfe hasn’t released that information as she said she won’t know until the payroll records are released, Duty said.

Duty said she received the list of those working during early voting, and she has received the Election Day breakdown in the past.

“We need same deliberate oversight in polling places that we had the first day of early voting,” she said. “If I was a businessman and I had a business, I wouldn’t hire a guy and say ‘I want you to take care of all these functions in this business and at the end of the week send me payroll,’ having no clue who is working. We really have no idea who these guys are.”

Van Wolfe said this is the same process conducted every year. The election judges are appointed by the political parties and the commissioners court, and the judges hire their own clerks. Van Wolfe said she knows who worked the polls after the payroll comes in.

Duty said her main concern now is what happens after the election.

“I think the country is tired of both political parties being unable to negotiate with each other and to work with one another,” she said. “I think everyone is tired of Congress not acting or not behaving like grown men.”

Whatever happens, the country will remain united, she said.

“On the 9th of November we’re going to wake up and the sun will come up and the rivers will flow and we’re going to be Americans. We’re all going to be Americans,” Duty said. “On the 9th of November we’re all going to be Americans, and God help us if we’re not the kind of people our grandparents can be proud of. I want the Greatest Generation to be proud of the choices we make and our future.”

Several McLennan County races went uncontested this year and will be kept by the Republican incumbents, including 19th District Judge Ralph T. Strother, 74th District Judge Gary Coley Jr., Sheriff Parnell McNamara, Tax Assessor/Collector Randy H. Riggs and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Kelly Snell.

On the ballot — Contested races locally

District 17 United States Representative (more)

Bill Flores, R

William Matta, D

Clark Patterson, L

District 22 State Senator (more)

Brian Birdwell, R

Michael Collins, D

District 56 State Representative (more)

Charles “Doc” Anderson, R

Clif Deuvall, L

McLennan County Commissioner Precinct No. 3 (more)

Will Jones, R

David Reichert, L

City races

City of Moody City Council (more)

Vote for none, one or two:

T.D. “Red” Watkins

Charleen Dowell

Tina Herod Eaton

John Carpenter

City of Robinson Local Option Election (more)

Vote For or Against:

“The legal sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food and beverage certificate holders only.”

City of West City Council (more)

Vote for none, one, two or three:

Brian X. Muska

Cheryl Marak

Stevie Vanek

Jack Barber

City of West Special Election (more)

Vote for or against:

“Shall the city council of the city of West be authorized to reduce the additional sales tax for property tax relief within the city at the rate of 1/8 of 1 percent to adopt the Type B economic development sales and use tax within the city at the rate of 1/8 of 1 percent, to undertake projects authorized by chapters 501 to 505 of the Texas Local Government Code, as amended, including but not limited to: land, buildings, equipment, facilities, expenditures, targeted infrastructure, and improvements to promote new or expanded business development; expenditures required or suitable for infrastructure necessary to promote or develop new or expanded business enterprises; land, buildings, equipment, facilities, and improvements required or suitable for use for professional and amateur sports, including children’s sports, athletic entertainment, tourist, convention, and public park purposes and events; and the maintenance and operations expenses for any of the above described projects?”

City of Riesel City Council (more)

Vote for none, one or two:

Phyllis Koester

Deanna L. Mulsow

Ray Wornat

Jeff Tanner

City of Riesel proposition (more)

Vote for or Against:

“The adoption of a local sales and use tax in the city of Riesel at the rate of ¼ of 1 percent to provide revenue for maintenance and repair of municipal streets.”

School board races

Axtell ISD (more)

Vote for none, one, two or three:

Joe “Scooter” Bays

James Caldwell

Ricky L. Stecher

Brian Frankum

Moody ISD (more)

Vote for none, one, two or three:

Leann Sanchez

Carol Haas

Justin L. Foster

Jeff Dean

Riesel ISD (more)

Vote for none, one or two:

Ben Saage

Ruth Anne Schroeder

Adam Benton

Mike Searight

Chris Dieterich

Kooper Sjolander

Leigh Ann Holloway

Robinson ISD Place 3 (more)

Vote for one or none:

Barry Gann

Danielle M. Williams

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