Tarrant turnout strongEarly predictions that voters would be less enthusiastic this year than in 2008 are proving to be wrong in Tarrant County, which after almost a week of early voting was on pace to set a record.In the first four days of voting, 121,659 people cast ballots in person in Tarrant County, compared with 118,376 for the same period four years ago, the elections office reported. An additional 25,536 ballots were sent by mail.Early voting, which ends Friday, can accommodate many people who have long working hours or other weekday obligations.Polls will also be open this weekend. Tarrant County residents can vote at any early voting location from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today or from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.Monday through Friday, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.Election officials emphasize that the last day to vote by mail is Tuesday. Mail-in voting is available to those who expect to be away on voting days, people with disabilities, anyone 65 or older and jail inmates who have not been convicted of a felony.With a tight presidential race and several competitive local campaigns, Tarrant County voters appear eager to get to the polls. And that's as it should be in a democracy where the right to vote is still seen as a duty and a privilege.For more information on voting or locations, call 817-831-8683 or visit www.tarrantcounty.com/elections.Travis letter at AlamoTexas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is an ardent history buff. He's also a tough, passionate fighter when he sets out on a mission.To share an important part of Texas history with the state's residents, Patterson proposed bringing to the Alamo next year a letter written by Lt. Col. William B. Travis 176 years ago while the mission was under siege by the army of Mexican leader Antonio López de Santa Anna. The Alamo has been under the control of the General Land Office since last year.The Texas State Library and Archives Commission resisted because of concerns that the letter was too fragile to be moved and displayed under lights and that security risks were too high.Patterson persisted, coming up with a plan to have the Department of Public Safety escort the letter from Austin to San Antonio and provide security for the two weeks that it is displayed at the Alamo. The dates will mark the 177th anniversary of a siege that plays such a large role in Texas history.He also said he would have a shatterproof case for the document and would raise $100,000 in private funding for expenses.Last week, the commission approved the exhibit, meaning that Travis' "Victory or Death" letter will be back at the Alamo for the first time since it was written there and that Texans will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view it.Patterson said, "In my view, in every Texan's lifetime there should be one opportunity to see this in person."The powerful letter, which Travis wrote on Feb. 24, 1836, after a 24-hour bombardment by Santa Anna's soldiers, was addressed to the people of Texas and "all Americans in the world."He concluded by saying: "If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country -- Victory or Death."Patterson's very Texan persistence will enable Texans to see -- at least once -- this important piece of the state's past.