Early Voting Shows Massive Leap

Texas counties broke records Monday. Is it energy, or early burnout?

It's hard to draw any conclusions from early voting turnout. However, the numbers from day one of the November election don't lie: Yesterday, a record number of Travis County residents made it to the ballot box for the first day of early voting.

Voters flocked to the ACC Highland Campus, one of four "Voting Mega Sites" throughout the city, on the first day of Early Voting. (photo by John Anderson)

In total, according to data provided by Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, 46,086 registered voters cast a ballot through the first day of early voting, a soaring new record. 35,066 were cast in person, with the Travis County Elections Divisions reporting that 11,020 of the 24,076 mail ballots had already been returned to DeBeauvoir.

That's a massive increase from the last comparable election, the 2012 presidential race between incumbent Democratic Pres. Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

Early Voting Day One In Person Mail In Ballots Total Percentage of registered voters
2016 35,066 11,020 48,086 6.32
2012 16,378 4,557 20,935 3.3

Not only is that up from 2012, it's up from 2008 (the last time the White House was vacant), when 24,207 Travis County residents turned out to practice their democratic right on day one.

This is a pattern that has been emulated statewide. In Bexar County, voters set a new first-day record, with 35,431 voters showing up at the polls (up from the 2012 record of 30,087). New records were also set in Dallas, Collin, Harris, and Tarrant Counties.

What's caused this initial burst of energy? Hopefully some of it can be traced to the fact that Austin now has November council elections, making this is the first time those races have coincided with the presidential race. However, that doesn't explain why neighboring Williamson County left Travis in the dust, with a massive 8.5% turnout.

Undoubtedly, the presidential race is having some effect. But from just one day of voting, it's hard to say exactly what's going on. Is this a sign of dramatically increased participation, or just the energized members of the electorate out there early? Or, alternatively, voters who just want to put this torturous campaign season behind them as quickly as humanly possible.

Day One Early Voting Facts

• Busiest location: Ben Hur Shriner Center (2,789 voters)
• Slowest location: Del Valle ISD Administration Building (265 voters)
• Busiest mobile voting location: Travis Building (639 voters)
• Last day to apply for a mail-in ballot: Oct. 28
• Last day of early voting: Nov. 4

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