Remember how crowded the early voting locations were during the primary, and how so many people were reporting wait times of up to two hours to cast their (Democratic) primary ballot? Well, things will be considerably busier starting Monday.
An unprecedented half-million Harris County voters are expected to cast early ballots for the presidential race and other offices during the two-week early voting period, an increase sparked in part by political parties and candidates urging supporters to vote before Election Day.
In response to the forecast of a record-high early vote that starts Monday in Texas, county officials have added extra polling stations and voting booths and new auxiliary equipment to keep waiting lines as short as possible.
There are several reasons for the anticipated increase in early voting.
The percentage of votes cast early has climbed with every past election, and the trend is expected to continue as voters become more comfortable with the idea of getting voting out of the way before Election Day.
In 2004, almost 40 percent of the Harris County vote was banked by the end of October. The total county vote then was 1.08 million, a 58 percent turnout of all registered voters.
With the participation rate expected to climb along with the use of the early voting options, experts say at least half of the Harris County votes -- a half-million or more -- will be cast before Nov. 4.
Year EV total Vote total EV %
2000 252,083 974,822 25.9
2002 166,694 648,077 25.7
2004 436,896 1,067,968 40.9
2006 191,533 589,348 32.5
Year EV total Vote total EV % Ratio
2000 35,204 212,820 16.5 0.64
2002 34,625 171,825 20.2 0.78
2004 35,381 152,645 23.2 0.57
2006 33,362 109,848 30.4 0.94
For what it's worth, a half-million early votes would represent a countywide turnout of 1.25 million if we vote early at the same rate as in 2004. Other values are left as an exercise for the reader. I'll see what it looks like on November 1 and do the math thing again from there. In the meantime, the early voting locations and schedules for Harris County are here (PDF). Plan accordingly, come to the early vote rally at Discovery Green on Sunday night at 7, and get ready to vote.Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 18, 2008 to Election 2008