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Early voting, Day One

One day of early voting is in the can, and when all was said and done 26,051 in person votes were cast. In 2006, 8,545 in person early votes were cast. You can see a spreadsheet of 2006 daily EV results here. Daily 2010 EV results will be here.

I voted yesterday at the Metro Multi-Service Center on Gray and though there were a lot of voters, there were also a lot of available voting machines, so I got right in. Apparently, at some other locations, there was some trouble, though not of the mechanical kind.

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan expects to meet this morning with the county’s Democratic and Republican chairmen after receiving complaints of possible voter intimidation on the first day of early voting on Monday.
The complaints came from predominantly minority precincts.

“We have a long way to go in this election, and we’re committed to having it done lawfully and successfully,” said Terry O’Rourke, first assistant Harris County attorney.

The complaints, he said, came from Kashmere Gardens, Moody Park, Sunnyside and other predominantly minority neighborhoods. The complaints included poll watchers “hovering over” voters, “getting into election workers’ faces” and blocking or disrupting lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots.

[…]

True the Vote, a nonprofit organization founded by several Tea Party activists who go by the name King Street Patriots, had promised to verify voters’ credentials at polling places, but it was unclear whether complaints involved members of the group.

“I’m pretty confident that’s who it is,” said Gerry Birnberg, chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party. “Just connect the dots. No. 1, too much of the same thing was going on at each of the polling locations. No. 2, it’s consistent with what they announced they were going to do.”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s who it is, too. And I’m glad Vince Ryan is in the County Attorney’s office, because I’m confident he’ll thoroughly investigate this and ensure that nothing illegal is going on. If you encounter anything like this, this is all you need to know to cast a vote.

To vote, a person may present one of the following documents: a voter registration card, a driver’s license, a picture identification of any kind, a birth certificate, a U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization certificate, a U.S passport, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. First time voters who registered by mail and did not provide their driver’s license number or identification number will need to provide another form of identification other than their voter registration certificate.

Don’t let anyone stop you from exercising your right to vote.

Beyond that, the big question is about turnout. Out of curiosity, to see if there are any clear indicators of a surge in partisan voting, I compared the totals in the different State Rep districts. Here’s how that looks:

2006 final Strong R = 74,821 = 43.7% Medium R = 19,117 = 11.2% Medium D = 32,971 = 19.2% Strong D = 39,756 = 23.2% 2006 Day One Strong R = 3,411 = 39.9% Medium R = 1,004 = 11.7% Medium D = 1,821 = 21.3% Strong D = 1,912 = 22.4% 2010 Day One Strong R = 12,240 = 47.0% Medium R = 2,314 = 8.9% Medium D = 4,689 = 18.0% Strong D = 6,125 = 23.5%

I define as follows:

Strong R = HDs 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 135, 136, 150
Medium R = HDs 133, 138, 144

Medium D = HDs 134, 137, 149
Strong D = HDs 131, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148

I excluded the downtown location from all calculations, so the percentages don’t sum to 100. Combining the two:

2010 Day One R = 55.9% 2010 Day One D = 41.5% 2006 final R = 54.9% 2006 final D = 42.4% 2006 Day One R = 51.6% 2006 Day One D = 43.7%

Lots of things to keep in mind here. Early voting in general is more prevalent now than it was in 2006, when a smidge fewer than 30% of all votes in Harris County were cast early in person. That’s especially true this year, when everyone has been urged to vote early due to the fire that destroyed all of the county’s voting equipment. I’d guess that at a minimum, we’ll have double the in person early vote total from 2006. This is also a very crude way to gauge partisan interest, since even the strong partisan districts can have big pockets of voters from the other party. We’ll know a lot more when the roster of who voted gets released, so we can see what precincts these voters are in. Finally, strong early voting isn’t particularly predictive of final turnout. A lot of these early voters are just people who would have voted on Election Day in previous years. It’s way too early to make any guesses about final turnout, but it will be important to not overestimate based on EV totals.

The vote by mail totals are way up as well, with a bit more than twice as many mail ballots being sent in 2010 than in 2006. Mail ballots tend to be heavily Republican, but I expect that this too is mostly a shift in voting behavior rather than an increase in votes. I also figure more Democrats than usual requested absentee ballots, as an alternative to early voting. But we’ll see how it goes.

Campos has a comparison to 2008, which is interesting but not quite the same thing, as Presidential years draw very different voting populations. The early vote totals for the top 15 counties are not up yet, so we can’t say how things look elsewhere, though Hidalgo County showed good numbers for Monday. Again, how much of that is an increase in voters and how much is a shift in voting behavior is unclear. We’ll know more soon enough. BOR has more.

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6 Comments

  1. racymind says:

    I had two people hovering behind me for a while as I voted at the Acres Home Multi-Service Center. It started because I had my cellphone out with an emailed voter guide on display.

    Someone said to me that I couldn’t send texts in the voting area; “I said I am not texting, this is my voter guide.”

    There’s more to it, but this is a family blog.

  2. PDiddie says:

    racy, by Texas Election Code cellphones — and still-image cameras and videocams and other similar electronic devices — are verboten inside the poll. You can bring any manner of papers (voting guides, etc.) but I’m surprised you weren’t instructed to turn it off.

    Apropos of nothing (in this post), I’m voting on a paper ballot on Election Day.

  3. racymind says:

    PDiddie,

    Well, I did print a voter guide and left it on my printer so I was a little frustrated at that particular moment at the poll after my long nightshift. But I would of course have complied with an actual polling place official.

    Not sure who that was standing behind me.

    Apropos of nothing (in this post), I’m voting on a paper ballot on Election Day.

    While I was voting, an elderly lady nest to me was having trouble with the idiotic voting machine wheel and buttons. She did get help, but it served to rekindle my longstanding frustration with the eSlate junk.

    I really am feeling the paper ballot idea.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Judy Jennings, Matt Osborne. Matt Osborne said: RT @VoteJudyJ: Reading: "Early voting, Day One" at Off the Kuff http://ht.ly/2W9Mh […]

  5. mary t. says:

    The Acres Home Multi Service Center is a great place to vote early.

    There was someone with a camera trained on the area where people walk up to sign in and get their e-slate numbers, so I guess those kind of cameras are okay? I was a bit unnerved, and if the gentleman directing people hadn’t made me aware of it first and told me to smile because I was on the news, I’m not sure how I would have reacted if I had noticed it on my own.

  6. […] Two of early voting saw far fewer allegations of voter intimidation and the possible arrival of the Justice Department to keep an eye on things. Responding to […]