The first week of early voting in Texas is in the books. For those hoping that turnout would reach the astronomical levels of 2018, there’s disappointment. However, there’s still five days left of early voting before Election Day on Tuesday, November 8.
Thus far, nearly three million ballots have been cast in Texas. According to Quorum Report, that would put the state on track for 36 percent turnout amongst eligible voters. In 2018, voter turnout in Texas among that group rose to 46.3 percent.
For Democrats, some of the early returns are sobering. After all, many predicted a massive backlash against a slew of rightwing agenda items passed in the last session, including a near-total abortion ban.
Perhaps the biggest areas of concern are the major metro areas of Texas. In Harris County, which is down significantly through the same amount of time since 2018, there’s a net difference of about 18,000 voters through the first four days. KHOU political analyst Bob Stein has also noted that voters over the age of 65 are turning out higher than 2018.
Dallas and Tarrant County are also showing signs of decreased voter turnout from 2018. Over seven days, turnout was down 33 percent and 20 percent respectively. A small caveat for both counties is that there was torrential rain for two days of early voting (including the first).
Still, the weather isn’t going to explain decreased voter turnout elsewhere. In El Paso County, where gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke represented in Congress, turnout is way down according to KERA. In 2018, 66,887 voters voted during the first four days of early voting. This year, that number is 37,090.
The worrying nosedive in populous counties is likely fueling the schedule for the statewide candidates. O’Rourke will be doing GOTV rallies in Dallas and Austin with Lieutenant Governor candidate Mike Collier. On Saturday, Collier will be in Houston along with Land Commissioner Candidate Jay Kleberg and Comptroller candidate Janet Dudding for a canvass launch with Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher.
Early voting goes until Friday, November 4. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.