Texans in the 15 largest counties have smashed the record for early voting in a non-presidential year, thanks largely to a huge surge in Democratic participation.
According to final figures posted Saturday by the Texas Secretary of State’s office, 885,574 Texas voted early in person or by mail over 11 days of early voting, which ended Friday. The primary is Tuesday.
That figure is up from 592,153 early votes in the comparable period before the 2014 March primary in the last midterm elections — a nearly 50 percent increase.
In 2014, Republican participation outpaced Democratic participation — 365,423 voters to 226,730. This year, participation in Democratic primaries outstripped participation in Republican primaries — 465,245 to 420,329.
In other words, more than twice as many people voted early in the Democratic primaries in 2018 as in 2014, while Republican early voting crept up by 15 percent.
In Travis County, 61,772 people early voted on the Democratic side, and 21,483 voted on the Republican side. Four years ago, 23,088 people voted early on the Democratic side, and 17,249 voted early on the Republican side.
Early voting this year in the Democratic contests was so high in Travis County that it slightly exceeded participation in 2016, a presidential year, when 61,104 residents voted early in the Democratic primaries. That same year, 32,350 participated on the Republican side.
The same was true in Williamson County, where, while more people voted early in the Republican than Democratic primaries this year, early voting turnout was higher on the Democratic side than it was in 2016.
This year, in Williamson County, 20,826 people voted early on the Republican side and 14,894 on the Democratic side. Four years ago, 13,728 voted early in the Republican primary elections in Williamson County, and 4,044 voted early in the Democratic primaries, which means that while Republican participation was up by a little more than half, Democratic participation well more than tripled. And, as in Travis County, the Democratic number this year of 14,894, exceeded the 2016 figure of 12,981. In 2016, 31,745 citizens early voted on the Republican side.
More than 1.1 million Texans early voted in the largest fifteen counties in 2016.
Article by Jonathan Tilove • View on Austin American-Statesman