Texas is shattering turnout records during early voting. So far, over 2.6 million votes have been cast, according to Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs.
In the 2016 presidential election, Texas had nearly 9 million total voters in the election, with 4.5 million voting early in person or casting their ballots by mail. There were just over 15 million registered voters in Texas in 2016. The most recent figures from the secretary of state show there are now 16.9 million registered voters in the Lone Star State.
Across urban counties in Texas, voters rushed to cast ballots early in the 2020 presidential election. In particular, Harris County residents smashed the previous one-day record, set in 2016, by about 50,000 votes, nearly doubling it. Then voters broke the record for another consecutive two days, with over 100,000 votes cast in-person each day. This comes as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden sent a surrogate to Houston on the first day of early voting. President Donald Trump sent a surrogate the week prior.
An additional 50,000 voters have returned ballots by mail, bringing the total figure to date to 400,000.
Tarrant County, the last Republican stronghold in an urban county in Texas, also saw high voter turnout, matching the excitement seen in the primaries. Voters in Tarrant County have, so far, cast 37,162 ballots by mail during the early voting period. An additional 133,610 votes have been cast in person exceeding the record set in 2016 of 130,431 votes cast after three days. Democrats and Republicans are betting big on Tarrant County to determine the course of the election up and down the ballot.
With an extra week to vote early this year, Texans are using the time to avoid the expected long lines on Election Day and the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
While more Texas seniors this year than ever are utilizing the ballot-by-mail option, a surge of young people are turning out to vote early in person. This may have contributed in part to the increase in voters this year. Despite the obstacles of a pandemic, reduced in-person get-out-the-vote contacts and many college-age voters not being on campus this semester, Texans young and old are coming out to perform their democratic duty in record numbers.
In 2018, part of what drove Beto O’Rourke to be the first statewide Democrat in decades to get within a few points of a victory were young people turning out in historic numbers. It remains to be seen if the voting turnout of Texas youth this year will portend a victory for the minority party in the state or in Congressional and statewide elections.
Those who have not voted so far during early voting can still cast their ballot early in person through Oct. 30 or on Election Day, Nov. 3. Check your local county elections office website for more information.