More than 3,600 Wharton County residents had cast early ballots in the November General Election before polls opened Friday morning.
With 14.3 percent of the possible 25,573 votes already cast, turnout far exceeds the pace of the last three presidential elections.
“I would say (turnout) has exceeded a bit what we expected,” Wharton County Elections Administrator Cindy Richter said Friday. “We knew it would be busy, but I didn’t think it would be quite that much. We’re happy.”
The first day of early voting this year saw 1,304 mark their choices at the polls – 281 in East Bernard, 460 in El Campo and 563 in Wharton.
When day three of early balloting closed, 3,645 votes had been cast – 637 in East Bernard, 1,415 in El Campo and 1,593 in Wharton.
“We’ve had a nice turnout,” Richter said. “Today it’s raining, so we’ll get a little bit of a break.”
During the 2016 race, early voters cast 1,184 ballots on day one with turnout anticipated to be heavy as Donald Trump squared off against Hillary Clinton for the presidency. The county had 25,225 people registered to vote that year, 9,294 chose to do so early.
In 2012, President Obama’s contest for a second term, the county recorded a 22.7 percent turnout among 24,269 registered voters.
Of early ballots, 1,148 were cast on day one, 8,722 during the two week early voting period. Total voter turnout for 2012 was 14,212 in Wharton County.
During the 2008 presidential race, voter turnout was in the 58 percent range with 14,576 ballots cast. Of those, 9,762 voted early (768 on day one) and 4,814 went to the Election Day polls.