A few thoughts about Election 2020 before Tuesday

Just a brain dump, to get this all out there before we find out what happened. Let’s start with this:

After the conclusion of three weeks of early voting, 9.7 million Texans have cast ballots, crushing previous early voting totals in the state and setting Texas on a course for record turnout in this Tuesday’s general election.

At least 9,709,376 voters cast early ballots, according to preliminary final numbers released by the Texas Secretary of State and the counties on Saturday morning. That is 57.3% percent of registered voters, just shy of the overall turnout of 59.4% in 2016 by 2 percentage points.

Of those early votes, 8,738,363 were cast in person; 971,013 were cast by mail.

Early voting, which Gov. Abbott extended by six days this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, has already eclipsed total votes during the 2016 general election, when 8,969,226 Texans voted.

Texas has added 1.8 million registered voters since the 2016 election. Texas has not surpassed 60% turnout of registered voters since the early 1990s.

Harris County, Texas’s most populous county, leads the state with 1.4 million votes cast. Among large counties, Collin County outside of Dallas has the highest early voting turnout with 69%.

As we have discussed before, high turnout is generally more favorable to Democrats, but not universally, and there’s been plenty of activity in heavily Republican counties:

Comal County is like Montgomery County’s little brother, and Guadalupe is pretty Republican, too. That said, it’s important to keep in mind the distinctions between “percentages”, especially when we are talking about increases, and absolute numbers. Comal County cast 62K ballots total in 2016; I don’t know what their early voting numbers were in 2016, but a 26% increase over their final turnout would be close to 80K votes. Harris County has had a *net increase* of over 80K votes so far, with Election Day still to come. A 26% increase in total final turnout in Harris County would mean about 1.67 million total voters, or an increase of about 350K from 2016, and at this point that’s the low end. In short, Harris County is big. Always keep that in mind.

If you go back to the Derek Ryan report from Thursday, when “just” nine million people had voted, the electorate at that point was 52.1% female, and 43.4% male. (Not all people specify their gender on their voter registration.) Assuming that hasn’t radically changed as of Friday, that means that something like 800K more women than men have voted in Texas. (In Harris County, the gender ratio was 55.3 to 44.3, a gap of a bit more than 150K.) Given the greater preference for Joe Biden among women, that could be a factor in how this election turns out.

Now let’s talk about how easy, or not-easy, it was to vote in Texas this year. There’s a lot, but I’ll try to be concise. Let’s start with this:

Maybe bullet points will help.

– I agree – and have said on this blog – that the actual impact of the “one dropoff location” order and rulings is minimal. Hell, I didn’t even know that dropping off mail ballots was a thing you could do until this year. I think it’s fair to say that the number of people who have used this option in the past can be counted on your fingers. I don’t know how many people would have used it this election, but even if we’re talking five figures, it’s on the order of five percent of total turnout. People had plenty of other options available to them, including the Reliant Arena dropoff location (which is in many ways more accessible than the Clerk’s office downtown), the US mail, and voting in person. I have a hard time believing anyone was truly disenfranchised by this.

– But all of that is beside the point. The multiple dropoff locations, all at official County Clerk offices, was consistent with the letter and intent of the law, and the amended order to limit them to one, which came more than two months after Harris County announced its dropoff plan, was an obvious partisan exercise that had no basis or reason other than to make voting less convenient, and to slap down an innovative Democratic County Clerk in a heavily Democratic county. On every level, this was a screw-you to Chris Hollins and Harris County.

– Yet even there, we must acknowledge that Greg Abbott did in fact expand access to voting. That third week of early voting was huge – I’m sure that Allen West and the seething hordes of the Republican base are super pissed about that. Plus, the fact that mail ballots could be dropped off during early voting at all was the result of Abbott’s executive order, the same one that allowed for the extra week of early voting. State law as written only allows mail ballots to be dropped off on Election Day. Abbott expanded that. He weaseled out later on, but he was weaseling on himself

– So one might claim, as John Cornyn did on Twitter, that it can’t be all that hard to vote in Texas, because so many people are doing it this year. But once you get past Abbott’s original executive order – which, you may recall, the State GOP and Harris County GOP, among others, tried to kill via the courts – it was local officials, with Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins as the exemplar, backed by $31 million from the Democratic majority on Commissioners Court – that did all the work to make it easier. And again, Republicans from Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton down to dregs like Steven Hotze and Jared Woodfill, fought them every step of the way.

– Finally, we have to acknowledge that whatever was done to make voting easier this year, we started from a baseline of voting not being easy, in so many ways. One big reason why the effect of the “one mail ballot dropoff location per county” ruling was minimal is precisely because access to mail ballots is so limited, and we saw that play its way out in the courts. If counties had to spend large amounts of money setting up early voting locations, it’s in part because the Legislature took away the option of temporary voting locations in the 2019 session, not to mention the removal of straight-ticket voting, which meant it would take longer for people to vote and might lead to longer lines at voting locations. We haven’t even talked about Texas’ notoriously strict voter ID law, or its refusal to allow online voter registration or same-day voter registration, or its recent efforts to purge voter rolls, or the problems of how hard it is for people with disabilities to vote, and on and on and on. If we have heroic levels of turnout this year, it’s in spite of all these obstacles.

– So my bottom line is that while turnout this year has been truly remarkable, and I hope that the results will be equally remarkable, none of this should obscure the fact that we have a lot of room to improve. And the only way that will happen is if we win enough election to make the systemic changes we need.

Hope that wasn’t too long. I’m out of thoughts for now. Go vote if you haven’t already.

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16 Responses to A few thoughts about Election 2020 before Tuesday

  1. Doris Murdock says:

    Given the turmoil created by DeJoy in the USPS, I drove my ballot to NRG and dropped it off, so count me as one of the voters who used this option.

    As to the stunningly blatant voter suppression actions on the part of the named officials in your article, I would add their backers, including the ISIS-inspired Republicans who caused a traffic tie-up on Memorial Drive in Houston. I was leaving the Houston Arboretum with my dog Friday morning, when this noisy caravan weaved in an out of traffic, passing dangerously. I re-routed to Washington Avenue. I don’t know where they were going (straight to hell, I hope).

    Law enforcement has been woefully inadequate and unprepared to handle these mobs. Perhaps too many of them are complicit.

    I bet if Abbott had had any inkling how helpful the extra early voting days were going to be, he never would have done it.

    Stay healthy, stay sane.

  2. David Fagan says:

    Buy gold

  3. Leisa McCord says:

    The reason you didn’t know about dropping off a mail ballot until this year is because it’s new this year. When Abbott extended the early voting period, he also extended the period for dropping off mail ballots. Without that extension, you could only drop them off at the main downtown clerk’s office on Election Day.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    “I have a hard time believing anyone was truly disenfranchised by this.”

    Kudos to you, Kuff, for being honest about this. All the “muh voter suppression” hysterics…..anyone who looks at our voting system objectively can see that was all bullshit.

  5. brad says:

    Its not the voting system, its the anti-democracy Republican officials attempting to sabotage increased voting.

  6. C.L. says:

    Tues/Wed is gonna be fun !

    I’d hide in my basement (the rest of the week) if I had one.

  7. Leisa,

    In person drop off of mail ballots was allowed by state law before this year, but it was limited to just Election Day. See https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/EL/htm/EL.86.htm#86.006

    Sec. 86.006. METHOD OF RETURNING MARKED BALLOT. (a) A marked ballot voted under this chapter must be returned to the early voting clerk in the official carrier envelope. The carrier envelope may be delivered in another envelope and must be transported and delivered only by:

    (1) mail;

    (2) common or contract carrier; or

    (3) subject to Subsection (a-1), in-person delivery by the voter who voted the ballot.

    (a-1) The voter may deliver a marked ballot in person to the early voting clerk’s office only while the polls are open on election day. A voter who delivers a marked ballot in person must present an acceptable form of identification described by Section 63.0101.

    Abbott’s executive order allowed mail ballot dropoff during the early voting period as well, which was a genuine expansion of voting access. Which he then clawed back by limiting dropoff boxes to one location. My point was that this was an obscure provision that was not widely used before this year, and because of that the effect of his restriction is minimal. It was still a crappy and anti-democratic thing to do regardless.

  8. Bill Daniels says:


    Have you watched the news the last couple of days? Businesses all over the country are boarding up their shop windows. Why are they doing this? FEAR OF JOE BIDEN VOTERS.

    It hasn’t been Trump supporters tearing up cities all Summer….it’s YOUR people that are doing that. I thank you for staying home and not participating in looting. Please encourage other Biden voters not to loot, either. I know y’all will be disappointed when Trump wins, but please, after a 4 year long temper tantrum fro the last election, please just accept that you lost this time without the looting and arson, m’kay?

  9. Manny says:

    Bill you are a persistent liar, just like orange god you kneel for.

  10. brad says:


    Your projecting is hilarious. “4 year long temper tantrum”….my 4 year old child has more self control than Trump. Trump is still kicking, screaming and whining about the last election….that he won the electoral college!!!

    How many millions of votes more by Biden over Trump will convince you that Trump is being rejected by the majority of America…again.

  11. Bill Daniels says:


    Your numbers don’t impress me when we see Sheila Jackson Lee, Ilhan Said el Nursi, and others harvesting ballots from memory care units and general old folks homes. Trump has to win by having real, alert voters vote for him to beat the margin of cheating y’all have already done via vote by mail.

    Many would say that’s elder abuse, I just call it despicable.

    Finally, put your money where your mouth is…..if you think Biden has this, how about a wager? $ 100 to the charity of your choice if Biden wins, $ 100 to an animal charity of my choice when Trump wins. Manny whiffed. You up for it?

  12. brad says:


    You forgot to mention the 5 million illegal immigrants who are voting.

    My favorite charities don’t take rubles.

  13. Manny says:

    Bill there you go again, a Trump troll who hides behind a fictitious name wanting to bet. Come out as to who you are first. Wednesday if Trump wins come an gloat.

    No one with have a brain believes your lies. But let me ask you, have you sexually assaulted as many women as Trump?

  14. Bill Daniels says:


    Wanna see what a temper tantrum looks like? Here’s the BLM doing their voter intimidation schtick in North Carolina, trying to block the entrance to the polling place. Leftists have been doing this kind of thing for the last 4 years. Remember the “Disrupt J-20” street violence? It never stopped. That’s all you Brad. These are YOUR people, Brad.


  15. Manny says:

    Dang Bill, anything that has to do with promoting racism and hate, you post as true. That is not what the video shows that is the march to the polls to vote in North Carolina that was met by racist democracy hating white cops and the Trump loving elected politicians.

    I gave you to much credit as having half a brain, it is much worse as it has been corroded by your hate of others that are not as despicable as you.

  16. brad says:


    Did you get your brown shirts back from the cleaners for your post election Trump rally/protesting?

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