June HCAD special election runoff early voting Day Eight: Let’s not be too pessimistic about turnout

I was struck by the following passage in this Houston Landing story about the HCAD runoff elections.

Turnout in the Place 1 race was just 2.1 percent of Harris County’s 2.56 million registered voters, according to Harris County Clerk’s Office data.

Turnout is expected to be even lower for Saturday’s runoffs, University of Houston political analyst Nancy Sims said.

“I don’t think this turnout will break 1 percent,” Sims said. “I just can’t see people coming out for this. There’s nothing else on the ballot to draw their interest.”

First, on an entirely pedantic matter, there are 2.62 million registered voters in Harris County, going by the figure in the official May canvass report. There were 2.59 million RVs as of November 2023, which is the last election report before May to contain a Harris County RV figure. It may be there were 2.56 million as of January, following whatever reconciliation and update activities the Tax Assessor’s office did. Whatever the case, as of May the county says 2.62 million.

Which means that Nancy Sims is predicting that turnout will top out at about 26,200 people. I have to wonder when she provided that quote, because just looking at the total number of ballots already cast in early voting, we’re probably going to exceed that today. Indeed, as we look at the Day Eight EV report, we are now at 23,287 total votes – 13,108 in person, 10,179 by mail. That’s about 2900 voters per day over the course of the EV period, and if we get that amount today, which does not include a normal “last day of early voting” bump, it would put us right at one percent turnout, with four more days for mail ballots to be returned and all of Saturday to come. Fair to say, that prediction is off.

I don’t mean to rag on Nancy, who’s a smart person and knows her stuff. As noted above, I suspect she provided that quote early in the cycle, before enough data had come in to alter one’s perception. And to be clear, this is still an abysmal level of turnout. I’d bet the under on getting to two percent, which is just ridiculous. It’s hard to take seriously the Republican claims that changing these three positions will be an improvement of representation, given how quickly and with so little notice these elections occurred and the fact that about half of the counties that had to have them ended up cancelling them because most or all of the races were unopposed. It’s a farce, but here we are, and the result still matters. Do what you can to make it a little more respectable by making sure you and the people you know get out and vote. Today and Saturday are your last chances.

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One Response to June HCAD special election runoff early voting Day Eight: Let’s not be too pessimistic about turnout

  1. Pingback: June HCAD special election runoff early voting Day Nine: On to Saturday | Off the Kuff

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