Long lines, busy campaigns mark final day of early voting

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by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on November 5, 2012 at 8:19 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 5 at 8:19 AM

AUSTIN -- With the line stretching from the front door to the street, hundreds waited well over an hour Friday to cast their ballots at the early voting location off Braker Lane and Research Boulevard in Northwest Austin.

"It's the longest I've had since I've been here in Austin," one early voter told KVUE.

"It's long," said another. "But it's my civic duty."

On the final day of early voting in Texas, campaigns were out as well. Opponents of a tax increase to support a new medical school at the University of Texas made their final push to defeat Central Health Prop 1 on the Travis County ballot Friday afternoon.

"Everybody likes health care. Everybody likes med schools," said Don Zimmerman with the Travis County Taxpayers Union. "Bottom line is, we're overtaxed in this county."

In the final days before Tuesday's election, the debate has become increasingly heated.

"It'll be good for business," one Travis County resident chided Prop 1 protesters after emerging from the early voting polling location. "We'll get more healthcare businesses here. We'll pay more taxes. I think it's a wonderful idea. I support it completely!"

At the University of Texas, student supporters waved signs asking the community to help bring a new medical school to the campus by supporting the ballot proposal.

"This is an incredible opportunity for us as a community to expand our indigent care, and so we really just hope that people understand that," said Marianne Shea with Keep Austin Healthy.

Elections officials say there haven't been any major problems during early voting, but it doesn't mean there haven't been any issues at all. A Bexar County election worker admitted to a reporter with sister station KENS 5 in San Antonio to asking voters for photo identification, despite the fact that they're not legally required.

At the State Capitol, representatives from the Texas NAACP and MALDEF addressed concerns Friday afternoon over voter intimidation, many of which revolve around improper information regarding the photo ID legislation currently placed on hold by the courts.

"The law is the law. So you discriminate against a voter when you ask that voter to produce something they should not be required to produce," said Texas NAACP President Gary Bledsoe, who told media incidents of intimidation have been widespread this election season.

For the most part, Travis County voters seem to be happy customers.

"I didn't want to vote Tuesday, so I wanted to do it early," one early voter told KVUE. "I wanted to get it over with before it got too close," said another.

What those votes decide, we'll soon find out.

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