Today was by far the heaviest day of Early Voting, with 17,072 ballots cast, which is nearly as much as Wednesday and Thursday combined, and also nearly as much as the final day of 2003. In the end, 71,368 in-person ballots and 9,148 absentee ballots were cast, for a total of 80,516; the comparable numbers from 2003 were 76,285 and 17,583.
Now then, to project final turnout. I’ve decided to treat absentee and in-person votes separately. In 2003, going by the countywide Metro referendum returns, there were 20,151 total absentee ballots. That means that 87.3% of all absentee ballots had been returned by the end of early voting. Assuming a similar rate of return this year, that’s 10,479 absentee ballots. In 2003, a grand total of 353,456 in person ballots were cast, which is to say that 21.6% of them were early. Using those numbers, and assuming that 75% of the total ballots will be city of Houston, we get the following:
% early Mail Person Total Houston =========================================== 21.5 10,479 331,949 342,428 256,821 25.0 10,479 285,472 295,591 221,963 30.0 10,479 237,893 248,372 186,279 35.0 10,479 203,909 214,388 160,791
That compares to 298,110 ballots in the 2003 Mayor’s race. I guess we ought to hope that early voting habits haven’t changed that much since 2007, despite the surge in pre-Election Day participation from 2008. If you force me to guess, I’ll go with the 25% scenario, but I wouldn’t bet my own money on it. What do you think?