Record Voter Turnout Expected In Smith County

More than 143 million people nationwide are registred to vote. That's 10 million more than the 2000 presidential election. Here in East Texas, polls are also seeing a boom in registered voters. With the rise in registered voters, that also means a predicted higher than normal voter turnout.
Tuesday's drizzle and cloudy skies did not keep thousands from heading to the polls in Smith County.
"I think this is probably the most important election in the history of America," said Smith County voter John Grimes.
Hundreds turned out at many of Smith County's 77 polling locations. At Rice Elementary in Tyler, almost 1,000 voters had already cast their ballots by mid afternoon.
"I always vote," said Donna Turner. "You do not have a say about anything if you do not vote, so whether the party that you are voting for wins or not it gives you a chance to say something."
There were a lot of voters Tuesday, but there were a lot of those who voted early as well. More than 36,000 Smith County residents cast their votes in two weeks of early voting; the highest amount in three decades.
However, there were those who preferred the nostalgia of the November election day.
"I like the atmosphere of actually being around other people when they are doing it," said Larry Snodgrass. "It's a celebration of being an American and I like being here when it happens."
Nineteen-year-old Malibu Diaz cast her vote for the very first time in one of the nation's most highly contested elections.
"It will affect us in the longrun," she said, "and it's really important that everybody votes because of the war and our economy."
Poll officials said when the polls close at 7 o'clock they expect to the highest voter turnout in the county's history.

Maya Golden reporting,