Texas' early voting turnout heavier than in 2006

FORT WORTH -- Nearly twice as many Texans have voted in this year's general election as in the last midterm and gubernatorial election four years ago.

More than 1.1 million Texans living in the state's 15 largest counties voted during the first nine days of early voting this year. Four years ago, 662,324 people had voted in that period, according to the Texas secretary of state's office.

The fourth-most votes were cast in Tarrant County, with more than 104,000 people voting in person or by mail, compared with 76,321 in 2006, records show.

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said he chalks up much of the turnout to the heated governor's race and national sentiment toward the midterm elections. But he said another trend may be appearing.

"I still think some of this translates to more people voting early over time," he said. "We're getting a greater percentage of our total vote in early voting than we used to."

Harris County residents have cast the most votes during the first nine days -- nearly 300,000, compared with 113,489 in 2006.

The governor's race, then and now, is likely driving turnout, along with congressional races.

In the Legislature, drawing the most votes so far is District 98 Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, who is unopposed. Some legislative races -- pitting state Rep. Paula Pierson, D-Arlington, against Republican Barbara Nash for District 93, and state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Burleson, against former state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington -- are drawing smaller turnouts, with 7,042 votes and 12,218 votes, respectively, local results show.

This year's early voting turnout easily beats records from 2006, but it isn't coming close to the historic turnout in the 2008 election, when nearly 2.4 million Texans, including more than 300,000 in Tarrant County, had voted by now.

Early voting runs through Friday. Votes may be cast at any of Tarrant County's 48 early voting sites.

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610