Early voting numbers could once again set records in Smith County, as voters cast ballots ahead of the March 3 primary elections.
Early voters headed to The Hub in Smith County on Tuesday morning were greeted by enthusiastic supporters of candidates seeking local office, including a person in a T-Rex costume waving a sign for one candidate.
The county saw 1,289 votes cast at its five early voting locations for the first day of early voting on Tuesday.
That number is 3.6 percent higher than the first day of early voting in the March 2018 primary elections, which saw 1,243 voters. Those races saw a total of 12,926 ballots cast in early voting, which was a record high for a midterm primary in Smith County.
In 2016 a total of 17,781 voters took advantage of early voting in the primary elections, which holds the record for highest early voting turnout in a primary election.
Tuesday’s numbers seem to have the 2020 primary elections tracking between the two. That year set records with both parties actively fielding multiple active campaigns for the presidential nomination. Smith County is considered a reliably republican district, so voters supporting incumbent President Donald J. Trump may not feel that sense of urgency this year.
Voters in Smith County can vote at five locations during early voting, and will have 35 polling places available on election day. Voters do not have to vote within their precinct in Smith County.
Early voting runs through Friday, Feb. 28. Winners of their party’s primary will appear on the ballot in the November General Election.
If no candidate in a contested race secures more than 50% of the vote, the race will then head to a May 26 Runoff Election between the top two vote-getters.
Voters do not need to register with a party to vote in the primary, but must be a registered voter in that county and can only vote in one party’s primary.
Polling hours for voting
Feb. 18-21: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 23: noon to 5 p.m.
Feb. 24-28: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Early voting locations
The Hub: 304 E. Ferguson St., Tyler
Heritage Building: 1900 Bellwood Road, Tyler
Noonday Community Center: 16662 County Road 196, Tyler
First Methodist Church-Lindale: 402 W. Hubbard St., Lindale
Whitehouse Municipal Court: 311 E. Main St, Whitehouse
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article misstated the number of early votes cast on the first day in 2018.