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Where the early vote was

As you know, I thought that the high turnout we were seeing in Early Voting for this past election was not so much an indicator of high turnout but of a shift in voting behavior similar to what we had seen in even-year elections. That prediction was incorrect – final turnout was higher than I thought it would be, and the reason for that was it was still the case that a majority of the vote was to come on Election Day itself. However, it is the case that behavior is shifting, and a bigger share of the vote was cast early than in prior odd-year elections. Let’s take a closer look at the early vote numbers, beginning with how much of the vote was cast early in each of the City Council districts:

Dist Total Mail Early E Day Mail% Early% EDay% ========================================================== Hou 174,632 20,280 60,135 94,217 11.6% 34.4% 54.0% A 13,532 2,347 4,513 6,672 17.3% 33.4% 49.3% B 13,753 1,868 5,563 6,322 13.6% 40.4% 46.0% C 32,466 3,107 9,791 19,568 9.6% 30.2% 60.3% D 19,663 2,295 7,462 10,652 11.7% 37.9% 54.2% E 18,702 1,788 6,920 9,994 9.6% 37.0% 53.4% F 7,790 564 3,516 3,710 7.2% 45.1% 47.6% G 27,286 3,879 8,215 15,192 14.2% 30.1% 55.7% H 10,249 1,041 3,109 6,099 10.2% 30.3% 59.5% I 9,538 1,133 3,110 5,295 11.9% 32.6% 55.5% J 5,942 679 2,193 3,070 11.4% 36.9% 51.7% K 15,461 1,479 5,563 8,419 9.6% 35.6% 54.5% All 259,962 24,000 87,925 148,037 9.2% 33.8% 56.9% Non 85,330 3,720 27,790 53,820 4.4% 32.6% 63.1%

“All” is all of Harris County. “Non” is Harris County minus Houston. As you can see, districts B, F, and A are the trendsetters in early voting, while Districts C, H, G, and J are behind the times. The city of Houston overall was more likely to vote early than Harris County, and much more likely to vote absentee than the non-Houston parts of the County. This makes sense because it’s usually candidates that drive absentee voting. Note that the four districts with multi-candidate races – A, B, D, and I – were all above average in absentee participation; District G was the other big performer there, and it was a contested race.

I don’t have any grand conclusions to draw from this, I was just curious about what the numbers looked like. I continue to believe that we will see a shift towards early voting in these elections – the level we saw this year was easily the high water mark for odd-year elections. Note that the higher early totals for the city, admittedly driven more by absentee ballots than by in person early voting, suggests that the Astrodome wasn’t a major component of early vote turnout. It was a modest driver of non-Houston turnout, as the city of Houston comprised 67.2% of all Harris County votes. That compares to 73.6% in 2011, 69.5% in 2009, and 63.6% in 2007. For those of you that had been playing the “guess the final level of turnout based on early voting” game, the right scenario among the ones I presented was 45% early plus high Houston turnout, which pegged it at about 170,000. More data to file away for 2015.

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One Comment

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    One absolute we can take away from this election, as well as others in recent memory is, people just don’t really care. How many voting age people live in Harris County? After (hopefully) deducting all the illegal aliens, that still leaves the majority of eligible, voting age people that don’t even care enough to vote at all, even when early voting is so easy. That’s tragic.

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