Whoa. This is the line for early voting in #Houston. Literally people camped out last night so they could be among the first to vote. “This is one of the most important elections of our lifetimes,” Cody Pogue tells me pic.twitter.com/swtTEmcjcZ— Jeremy Wallace (@JeremySWallace) October 22, 2018
I'd been hoping to get some word about voter turnout in Texas; I just didn't think it would come this soon.
Early voting started just yesterday:
It took Harris County, which includes Houston, less than six hours to set a new opening day of early voting record for midterm elections with more than 36,000 votes cast — exceeding the around 26,000 ballots cast there during the 2010 midterms, County Clerk Stan Stanart told the Houston Chronicle.
Dallas County was also flirting with surpassing the first-day turnout of 2016 — an unusual feat since turnout in presidential election years is typically higher.
In Travis County, home to Austin, Tax Assessor Collector Bruce Elfant said on Facebook that more than 36,000 people cast early ballots by 4 p.m. Monday, nearly doubling first-day totals from the last midterms in 2014. Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth, announced exceeding 37,000 votes — around triple the first-day early voting turnout for 2014.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said 42,000-plus people had voted by 4:30 p.m. Monday, and that the county could exceed the first day of early voting turnout for the presidential election in 2016.
Let me add some details to those numbers; and remember, Texas is a notoriously low-voter turnout state.
After 7 p.m. Monday, 55,384 ballots had been cast in Dallas County, according to the county elections department. That surpasses the 29,217 from the first day of early voting for the last midterm election in 2014. The numbers include mail-in ballots.
The last time voter turnout was high in Texas, Democrats won. There's a reason Republicans work so hard to suppress the vote, and a reason why Beto O'Rourke alone has spent $6 million in a GOTV effort:
Thousands of people were already camped out at a key early voting location in Houston on Monday morning, hours before voting was even set to begin.Elsewhere in Texas (we have at least five major metropolitan areas):
Nearly 2,000 people stood in line outside of the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray near River Oaks in a scene that looked more like a Black Friday shopping morning.
In Bexar County, The San Antonio Express News reported that as of 4 p.m. Monday more than 24,000 people had voted in person, compared to 13,436 who voted in person first day in 2014.
Bruce Elfant, Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar, reported on Facebook Monday night in-person and mail-in votes for Travis County totaled 47,405, compared to 17,181 first-day in-person and mail-in votes in 2014.
Smaller counties also saw big turnout. Midland County Election Administrator Deborah Land said out of 84,945 registered voters in her county, 3,546 had voted by 4 p.m. Monday — compared to just 756 who voted the first day in 2014.
“We had a line at the elections office all day,” Land said. “Most of the time it was extending down the hallway.”
NEW: As of 4:30, 60,172 #HarrisCounty residents have cast ballots today. Polls closed, but anyone standing in line now gets processed.— Zach Despart (@zachdespart) October 22, 2018
We've obliterated 26k old mark for midterm 1st day early voting (2010).
We've also beaten:
2012 gen election - 47k 1st day
2008 " " - 39k 1st day https://t.co/efu20DtIMz
Reports from all over Texas: In Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, The Valley, Lubbock, etc., wait times are 30 minutes to an hour at traditionally empty polling places #TXSen #txlege #EarlyVoting— Scott Braddock (@scottbraddock) October 22, 2018
And local NPR reports this morning that the final count for Harris County was over 63,000 votes cast; with mail-in ballots, over 120,000 votes have already been cast in Harris County, on just the first day of voting. The "gap" between Democratic and Republican voters, on just the first day of voting, is also said to be narrowing. Obviously that is not good news for Republicans.