To the Editor:
With slightly more than two weeks before the 2012 General Election, early voting is in full swing in Clay County.
Through the first nine days of early voting, there have been 624 ballots cast in our office, which is 116 more than after the same amount of time in 2008.
However, the total amount of absentee ballots sent by mail is down at this point, with 272 sent so far compared to 357 through the first nine days of the early voting period four years ago.
On the flipside, while 172 mail ballots had been returned by this time in 2008, we have had 161 returned through the end of business Friday.
When taking into account the five e-mail ballots that have been returned, there have been 110 more absentee ballots cast this year in comparison to 2008.
Although every election year holds importance, this increase in early voting is hopefully a good sign that Clay County voters are out to make their political choices heard at more than the scant 59.4 percent of registered voters who cast a ballot four years ago.
There are plenty of opportunities for Clay County residents to vote, and our office encourages everyone to take advantage of that right.
This week, our office will be open for the usual early voting hours of 8 a.m.-noon, and 1-4 p.m.
However, next week (Oct. 29-Nov. 2), we will offer extended early voting hours of 8 a.m., and 1-6 p.m., in hopes of accommodating potential voters whose jobs and/or other obligations keep them occupied through 4 p.m.
Early voting will also be available on two Saturdays (Oct. 27 and Nov. 3), from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., for those weekend warriors in the community.
In addition, early voting will be open from 8 a.m.-noon, Monday, Nov. 5, the day before the election.
For those who may be unable to make it to the polls on Election Day, or our office during early voting, now is the time to request an application to vote by mail or have the traveling board come to assist you in casting a ballot.
The deadline to file an application for a mailed ballot is Monday, Oct. 29, while the last chance to turn in a traveling board application is noon, Nov. 5.
Concerns about low voter turnout has increased in recent years and now is a perfect time for our citizens to increase those numbers, especially with all the opportunities available to cast your ballot.
Early voting takes place in the Clay County Election Office, located on the second floor of the Clay County Courthouse, Room 211.
To request an application to vote by mail or traveling board, call 448-9023.
Leaders on the local, state and federal levels are chosen by us in elections, so it is of utmost importance that we all make our opinions heard at the polls.
Clay County Election Office