Sunday, November 13, 2016

Early Vote in Texas in 2016

The early vote in Texas in the 15 counties with the largest number of registered voters (SOS counties) increased dramatically in 2016, both in the number and in the percentage of voters. There is no doubt that early voting is a hit in Texas, but does early voting lead to greater turnout? In 2016 in Texas, the answer is: No. Most studies of the effects of early voting on voter turnout show a limited effect, in the range of a few percent. That's what happened in Texas. In the SOS counties, early voting started with a huge increase on the first day, dropped to a reduced, but steady growth, took its normal Sunday dip on Day 8, and then slowly rose until the last day, when voters rushed to the polls so that they wouldn't have to brave the long lines on Election Day. The charts tell the story:

The story, however, doesn't end here. The SOS counties, as a percentage of the state's total early vote has risen in each election since 2008. In 2016, the percentage increased slightly to 68.53 percent. In 2012, it was 67.87 percent of the total early vote. However, the real shocker was that the early vote, as a percentage of the total votes cast (early vote combined with the Election Day vote), increased by more than 10 percent--62.81 percent in 2012 to 73.50 percent in 2016.

By 2016, nearly three-fourths of Texans have voted before Election Day, decreasing lines at many polling locations on Election Day and requiring campaigns to change the way they schedule their activities. Voter turnout in Texas was 59.13 percent of registered voters, a slight increase over 2012, but not as high as the 58.58 percent of registered voters that voted in 2008 or the 72.9 percent of registered voters that voted in 1992. 

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