Here are your Day Five totals:
Year Early Mail Total Mailed ====================================== 2015 48,027 21,141 69,168 42,938 2013 28,303 14,342 42,645 30,544
The running 2015 totals are here, the full 2013 totals are here, and for completeness the full 2009 totals are here. With one work week in the bag, it’s clear that early voting is a lot brisker than it was two years ago. You might think that it portends a much higher level of turnout this year. You might be right, though as you know I have been cautioning against reading too much into these numbers. More people are voting early now than they used to, and some of what we are seeing is merely the result of regular voters getting out earlier than usual and/or shifting to early voting from voting on Election Day.
Now to be sure, we do expect some higher level of turnout this year, thanks to the contested Mayor’s race and the HERO referendum. Indications I’ve gotten from people who have access to the daily voter rosters suggests that about 40% of the voters so far are not from the “at least two out of the last three elections” group. That’s actually not much higher than what we saw in 2009, when 36.1% of voters had not participated in either 2005 or 2007. It’s way too early to place your bets on what final turnout might be, but if I had to guess I’d lean more towards a modest increase, say from 180,000 to 200,000. Ask me again when the final early voting totals are in and I’ll take another guess then.
There’s another factor to consider here, and that’s that the increase in early voting in Harris County is not unique. Take a look at the four-day early voting totals from this year and from 2013 for the state’s biggest counties. The SOS is always a day behind on this, so all we have is the numbers through Thursday, but they tell the same basic story as in Harris County:
County In person Mail Total 2013 =========================================== Harris 36,316 19,789 56,105 34,412 Dallas 10,558 1,570 12,128 5,649 Tarrant 10,713 2,601 13,314 6,939 Bexar 11,285 2,865 14,150 9,117 Travis 7,231 164 7,395 9,880 Collin 7,374 168 7,542 4,546 El Paso 3,081 968 4,049 1,583 Denton 4,388 315 4,703 3,455 Fort Bend 4,780 691 5,471 2,890 Hidalgo 3,456 211 3,667 4,661 Montgomery 5,779 429 6,208 1,483 Williamson 4,192 116 4,308 3,402 Galveston 2,222 58 2,280 1,264 Nueces 1,072 51 1,123 4,978 Total 112,447 29,996 142,433 94,239
As Harris County’s EV totals are up 62% over the five day period, the top 14 counties have seen their four-day EV totals climb 51%. There’s some variation in there – I’m not sure what is causing the dip in Travis County, and the huge increase in Montgomery County is surely the result of their second contentious road bond proposal of the year – but still, that’s pretty sturdy. Harris County is up more than the overall total, and its increase is relatively larger if we take it out of the state total – the rest of the state’s EV total is up only 24% – but it remains the case that more people are voting early everywhere, not just here. And as always, the lesson is to not read too much into what’s happening in one place till we have more data.