Despite an increase of almost 500,000 registered voters since March, early voting turnout for the Nov. 8 general election so far has been generally lower across the state than for the midterm elections in 2018. The number of requests for mail-in ballots is also down substantially.
More than 3.25 million — about 20% — of the state's 17.7 million registered voters have cast ballots in the past week. Harris County, with about 2.6 million registered voters, and Dallas County, with about 1.4 million registered voters, were reporting a turnout of about 17%. Tarrant and Bexar counties, with more than 1.2 million voters each, were at about 20%, and Travis County, with about 890,000 voters, was a little above 21%.
Other counties were also recording a lower turnout. In the Rio Grande Valley, numbers were down despite some competitive local races, The Monitor of McAllen reported. Lubbock County noted a dip from 2018 but an increase from 2020, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal said. Jefferson County also noted a drop in turnout for the general election, but an increase from the March primaries, the Beaumont Enterprise reported.
County officials were dealing with a shortage of poll workers and occasional glitches with new voting machines or ballot errors. In Harris County, election workers were already warning that the counting could run late. Some counties were seeing a rise in threats against election officials and an increase in poll watchers. Travis County paid for de-escalation training for about 60 election workers.
Early voting continues through Friday. To learn more about how county officials make sure your vote counts, listen to our Texas County Voice podcast.