Perfect voting records are probably not the norm in the United States. Despite ongoing efforts, not every eligible voter ever registers. Even among registered voters, many choose to sit it out when a long list of unopposed incumbents dominate the ballot. Others will skip making their opinions known when seemingly insignificant or confusing matters like amendments to the state constitution are offered.

Even in elections when the occupant of the White House is at stake, many registered voters choose not to participate. A 60 percent turnout is considered remarkable.

It appears things are different this year. Many of those traditional non-voters have been showing up at the polls for primaries and caucuses throughout the nation. Voter registrations are up, and so is the number of ballots cast in states where elections have already been held.

With the race for the Democratic presidential nomination still a contest, participation in the Texas primary for that party is up significantly after only a few days of early voting. Strong turnouts are being reported for the Republican primary as well. It will be election day on March 4 before we know whether these are truly additional voters, or just a continuation of the trend seen in recent years where more people vote early rather than wait until election day. But the Texas Secretary of Stateís office is figuring itís more voters, and has asked elections offices throughout Texas to make sure plenty of ballots are available.

Several local races in this yearís primaries ó in both the Republican and Democratic parties ó are drawing keen interest in addition to the presidential contests.

As election officials continue to prepare for what could be a record turnout of voters, the voters need to be doing some preparation themselves by studying the positions of the candidates and understanding how the party primary system works. They may want to join the precinct conventions on election night, and consider adding their voices to others in their chosen political party.

For some voters, itís been too long. Welcome back.

Brownwood Bulletin