For all the suffering, lost privacy, and lost lives we still have to thank George W. Bush for doing us the ultimate favor of provoking American voters to go to the polls in a way that has never been seen before.
Remembering the 2004 election, I was living in California at the time, doing research at UC Santa Cruz. When Bush won (or stole) the election, people were so depressed. There were meetings, discussions - places where we all lamented such a horrible turn in American democracy. I am not sure if any of us were thinking of a long term reaction to Bush's election.
Sometimes it takes something extreme to get people going. Bush's tragic presidency has pushed us over the edge... we cannot tolerate this type of incompetency anymore... we are trying to take back our government - it's tremendously exciting to see all the momentum.
Thank you again George W. Bush - for the wonderful gift you are leaving us.
Early Harris County voting for primary turnout 'unprecedented'
More than 230,000 people cast ballots in Harris County during the last 11 days, capping an "unprecedented" early voting period for the Republican and Democratic primaries. Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Shortly before 10 p.m., last-minute early voters had been waiting at six locations for three hours to cast their ballots, said Paul Bettencourt, tax assessor-collector and voter registrar. Polling stations with lines of more than 100 people included Moody Park, Acres Homes and the Bayland Recreation Center on the southwest side.
"It's an unprecedented primary turnout," said Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, referring to the early voting that ended Friday.
Kaufman noted that through the years the number of citizens opting to vote early has risen from less than 20 percent to more than 30 percent of the total primary vote.
"That could mean we would vote another 500,000 people on Tuesday," she said.
She added that the office is prepared for "a long night" Tuesday.
"The biggest problem facing workers at the polling places is crowd control," she said.
Election rules require officials to keep the polls open and allow residents to vote as long as they arrived at their precinct before 7 p.m., officials said.
The ratio of Democratic to Republican voting was about 3-to-1.
By 8 p.m., almost 220,000 residents of Harris County had voted in person in the primary elections. Another 10,554 ballots were returned by mail.
The three most popular polling places during the primary election were the Cypress Creek Library in northwest Harris County, the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center in Montrose and the Freeman Library in Clear Lake, each drawing more than 10,000 voters.
Larry Blanco and his wife waited almost two hours Friday evening to cast their ballots at the Multi-Service Center.
Hundreds of people were still in line there as the couple exited just after 6 p.m.
"People talked to each other, waited patiently," Blanco said, adding that he only saw one voter leave due to long lines.
The 58-year-old said he'd "never, ever, waited so long to vote."
"But it's good — it means that people care," Blanco said.
Kaufman said voters in the primary election experienced delays but that there were no significant problems.
"And we're ready for next Tuesday — this is not my first rodeo," she said.
Chronicle reporter Alan Bernstein contributed.