The recent history of runoff early voting

I brought this up in yesterday’s post, so let’s take that look at how much of the runoff vote has been cast early in the last few Mayoral elections.

Year    Early    E-Day    Total    EV %
2003   77,984  138,804  216,788  35.97%
2009   67,760   87,215  154,975  43.72%
2015  116,399   93,635  210,034  55.42%
2019  118,245   85,035  203,280  58.17%

There were runoffs in other years, before the switch to four-year cycles, but none since 2001 had a Mayoral race, and we don’t have full early voting data from that year. I could have included the data from 2013 and so on but decided it wasn’t apples to apples and didn’t really add much.

There are two things I take away from these numbers. One is that if I had also considered runoff early voting patterns, I might have been a bit more conservative in my estimate of final turnout in November. The fact that early voting volume was less in 2019 for the November election than it had been in 2015 threw me off. Looking at this would have made me think maybe that was an outlier and I should expect the early voting rate to be higher. Live and learn.

And if that’s the case, then I would probably expect that early voting will make up about 60% of the total volume for this runoff, on the theory that it will nudge up a couple of points. If so, then final turnout will be a hair under 220K, a new high in absolute terms but at best a wash with 2019 in percentage of registered voters. I’m going to spare myself more math and just note that if the EV volume is a little higher then 2003 will remain the turnout champion. Given how things have gone so far, and with the likelihood of some afternoon thunderstorms on Saturday, it’s probably wise to bet the under. Whatever the case, go vote tomorrow if you haven’t already.

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3 Responses to The recent history of runoff early voting

  1. D. R. says:

    What would it take to get city of Houston municipal elections moved to even years with the midterm/presidential general?
    How feasible is this? Ballot initiative ?
    Need to make this happen.

  2. DR – Yes, I believe it would take a charter amendment. Maggie Gordon recently addressed this.

    My main concern is that having city elections at the same time as the Presidential elections is it would totally drown out the local races. Nobody knows who’s running for the At Large seats now, it would be a total crapshoot in an even year. It would also mean that HISD and HCC elections are completely orphaned in the odd years, or we’d have to move them as well and make them even more obscure. Oh, and it would make our already super-long ballots that much longer.

    I’m not opposed to this idea. I’d most likely vote for it right now. I’m just saying there would be downstream effects that we ought to think about before we make such a move.

  3. D.R. says:

    Good points. I would prefer a midterm year to say a presidential election year.

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