Thursday evening, Ellis County elections administrator Jana Onyon reported an “incredible” turnout of 17.31% (about 20,823 votes) during the first three days of early voting.
“I’m excited about the turnout and I look forward to seeing at least a 75% turnout,” she said. “Let’s make this happen, voters of Ellis County!”
Ellis County has 120,275 registered voters, and a 75% turnout would see about 90,206 ballots cast.
By comparison, the 2016 general election saw 64,355 (62.96%) ballots cast by the county’s then 102,217 registered voters.
To facilitate voters’ use of early voting, six locations are set up across the county: one site each in Waxahachie, Red Oak, Palmer, Ennis, Glenn Heights and Midlothian. Voters can vote at any of the sites.
“There are lines, but it is moving quickly at each site,” Onyon said. “You don’t want to miss your opportunity in case you become unavailable on Election Day.”
She encourages voters to take advantage of early voting, which was actually extended for the 2020 general election under an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott out of concern with the pandemic.
“Historically, mid-day and weekends are the lower turnout times,” Onyon told the Sun, noting that voters still have two more weeks of early voting in which they can vote.
This past week saw the early voting sites open until 5 p.m. This week, the closing time is extended to 6 p.m. and the week after will have a closing time of 7 p.m. The last two days of early voting will also see three additional sites added around the county for voters’ convenience.
Onyon reminds voters to bring their photo ID with them to the poll and said curbside assistance is available at any of the sites for those who cannot enter the polling location safely and for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19.
Voters who want to return their mail ballot in person as opposed to mailing it back have to do so during the early voting period and must drop it off at the county’s Elections Office, which is located at 204 E. Jefferson St. They will need to bring their photo ID with them to have the mail ballot counted, Onyon said, noting that curbside service for people in need of assistance also is available with dropping off a mail ballot. Voters should drive up and call the Election Office number at 972-825-5195 to alert a worker to come out to their vehicle.
“Misinformation is circulating that early voting ballots by mail or in person do not get counted and that is false,” Onyon said. “All ballots cast by an eligible voter in Ellis County are counted.”
She advises people to look to the Elections Office’s website, http://www.co.ellis.tx.us/629/Upcoming-Elections, or its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/EllisCountyElections/, for trusted information about voting.
Onyon also said she wants to remind people not to wear political attire reflecting anything that is on the ballot when they go to vote.
“The Texas Election Code does not permit any electioneering within 100 feet of the outside door and inside the polling place,” said Onyon, who also suggests that people print out their sample ballot from the Elections Office website, mark it and bring it with them to the polls for a smoother voting experience.
Another question that has come up, she said, is whether people who are registered to vote in another Texas county but who have moved to Ellis County can vote here.
Those voters can qualify for a limited ballot and be able to vote on those offices that are the same between the two counties, Onyon said. Voting a limited ballot, however, can only be done during early voting and only at the Waxahachie site (the main location), which is at First United Methodist Church, 505 W. Marvin Ave.
The other five sites are:
• Ellis County Sub-Courthouse (foyer), 207 S. Sonoma Trail, Ennis
• Midlothian Conference Center (ballroom/foyer), 1 Community Circle Drive, Midlothian
• Palmer ISD Annex Building (portable building), 303 Bulldog Way, Palmer
• Grace Covenant Church (dining hall), 212 N. Main St., Red Oak
• Harvest of Praise (House of Manna Room), 2603 S. Hampton Road, Glenn Heights
The main and five temporary early voting locations are open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17; from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, Oct. 19-23; from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24; from 1-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25; and from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, Oct. 26-30.
The three additional sites to be added the last two days of early voting (7 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Oct. 29-30) are as follows:
• Mount Gilead Baptist Church, 300 Harris St., Italy
• Ferris Public Library, 301 E. 10th St., Ferris
• First Baptist Church Maypearl, 5744 Farm-to-Market 66, Maypearl
Information on the early voting sites – including a Google map and directions to each of them – is listed on the Elections Office website at http://www.co.ellis.tx.us/629/Upcoming-Elections.
Voters must be in line by the polls’ closing time to be able to vote.
Anyone with questions is welcomed to contact the Elections Office at 972-825-5195, Onyon said.