We’re at the first Friday of early voting for the November 2023 election, and a pattern is beginning to emerge. This is the data through Day Three:
Year Mail Early Total
2015 18,196 27,596 45,792
2019 6,050 26,206 32,256
2023 4,742 41,701 46,443
The final EV totals from 2015 are here and the final EV totals from 2019 are here. The daily EV report is being posted online now here, but I’m still grabbing a copy each day and saving it for my purposes. The Day Three file is here.
It took less time than I might have guessed for 2023 turnout to catch up to, and indeed surpass, 2015 turnout. The reason for that is simple – in person daily voting so far has been going like gangbusters. It has been more than enough to make up for the large difference in mail voting. Note that for all three years the overall totals were about the same on the Tuesday and the Wednesday. That continued to be true for Thursday and Friday in 2019, while Thursday dipped a little and Friday surged ahead in 2015. What I’m saying here is that we should probably expect more of the same over the next two days for this year as well.
Someone asked me earlier if this dip in mail ballots might mean that we’re seeing a younger electorate. I’ll have to look at the voter roster to take a stab at that, but my best guess is probably not, at least not by much if at all. I think two things might be happening. One is I think the campaigns are pushing in person voting more than they’re pushing mail voting. I say that because there are just fewer mail ballots out there, and maybe they don’t want to mess with the hassles even if the convoluted process for getting and submitting a mail ballot is somewhat less fraught these days. The other possibility is that we’re finally starting to see a shift to early voting for city elections the way we’ve seen them for state and federal (that is, even-numbered year) elections. Remember that as of the two most recent city election years, most ballots were cast on Election Day. That hasn’t been true for an even year since 2006. I do not expect to get anywhere close to the high levels of early voting that we’re now used to, but if we wind up with 55-60% of all ballots cast by next Friday, it wouldn’t shock me.
If that’s the case, then we need to temper our expectations for final turnout. It’s too early to think about that, and I absolutely still believe we’re going to hit 300K for the city overall, I’m just saying this as an early warning against reckless optimism. I still remember the absurdly frothy turnout projections we got in 2008, as no one had yet realized we were in a new paradigm for when people voted. Now, it may be that we’re still in a majority-on-Election-Day world for odd-year elections, in which case we really are headed for the stratosphere. I’m not ready to believe that, and you shouldn’t be either. Ask me again in a week.
So. Have you voted yet? Has anything surprised you so far? Leave a comment and let us know.
UPDATE: The Day Four total is 59,241 votes, which compares to 56,011 from 2015. I voted yesterday at West Gray, it was moderately busy but no wait time.