Norman Activity Center.JPG

The Norman Activity Center, 526E. Commerce Street in Jacksonville, serves as a polling station for early voting in Cherokee County, along with the Cherokee County Election Department, 138 W. 5th Street, Rusk; and The River Church, 595 Marcus Street, Alto.

Cherokee County voters are electing to cast ballots in person or by mail during the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election. In the first week of early voting, 5,364 registered voters had cast ballots in person, according to the Cherokee County Elections Department. Another 905 mail in ballots had been received by the same date, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.

This accounts for over 1-in-5 registered voters, or 21.49 percent, placing Cherokee County just behind neighboring counties Nacogdoches at 26.72% and Henderson at 22.41%. Participation in other nearby counties include Houston, 20.96%; Angelina, 20.93%; Smith, 20.34%; Rusk, 15.51%; and Anderson, 15.41%.

Several voters gathered outside the Norman Activity Center, waiting for polls to open Friday, Oct. 16.

Suzanne Simek, of Rusk, was among many gathered and referred to the act of voting as “family-instilled.”

“I’m here because of my father-in-law, who passed away a year ago today,” Simek said. “He was Republican. Every time there was voting, he’d show up at your house. ‘You’re going, no matter what. You’re going to vote, even if you don’t agree with me’.”

Simek chose to cast her ballot during early voting, opposed to Election Day, “to be sure that I got in.”

Her mother, Leada Amoury of Rusk, was also waiting to cast her ballot.

“We’ve traveled all over the world and I still wouldn’t trade anything for the United States,” Amoury said of herself and her husband. “It’s good to have an opportunity to vote; most countries you don’t.”

Ronnie Clayborne, of Jacksonville, was hoping to vote as soon as polls opened so that he could get to work.

“I’m voting because I want my voice to be heard,” he said. “If I don’t vote, then I shouldn’t say anything. Whatever outcome there is, we’re going to put it in the hands of the Lord because He’s in charge of everything and He’s going to work everything out.

“I think it’s important for everybody to vote. Everybody should have a voice in this elections. Whichever way they decide to go, it’s their business, but everybody should have a voice.”

Shelly Cartwright, of Troup, choose to vote so she could return to work, having been laid off from the oil and gas industry due to COVID.

“I have lost my job. My whole family has lost their jobs,” she declared.

The reason she arrived prior to the doors opening was to avoid the long lines she had seen on televised news and make certain her vote counted.

“It was on the news last night about how many mail in votes had been rejected and turned back because the signatures didn’t match up just right,” Carthwright said. “It’s better to do it in person if you can.”

Early voting remains open through Friday, Oct. 30, at three locations in Cherokee County, Norman Activity Center, 526 E. Commerce Street, Jacksonville; Cherokee County Election Department, 138 W. 5th Street, Rusk; and The River Church, 595 Marcus Street, Alto.

Polling hours are:

- 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, Oct. 20-23;

- 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24;

- 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25;

- 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26;

- 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27;

- 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, Oct. 28-30.

Polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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