Texans are heading to the polls in such record numbers that more than one-fourth of voters statewide and in Tarrant County had already cast ballots as of Monday in the Nov. 8 election.
So far, more than 2.6 million voters in the state’s 15 largest counties — 27 percent of registered Texans — cast their ballots in the first seven days of early voting, creating such a rush that many poll workers quickly ran out of the coveted “I voted” stickers.
And there are still several days left to vote early, not to mention Election Day itself.
“This year especially, early voting is a marriage of convenience and exasperation,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “Voters are ready for the long election season to be over and for many the prospect of having it done early allows them to put the 2016 election in their rear view mirror.”
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Four years ago, 1.87 million Texans, 21.6 percent, had voted at this point. Eight years ago, 1.77 million voters, 20.9 percent, had weighed in, state records show.
Rottinghaus said there’s no surprise that turn out is up, since the state had a record 15.1 million Texans register to vote this year.
“There has been a surge of citizens registering to vote so there are simply more voters,” he said. “The growth of the state, especially the suburbs, has swelled the number of people looking to vote early.”
Many voters are focusing on the presidential race at the top of the ballot, choosing between Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. There are also a host of candidates eligible to have their names written in, and be legally counted, in Texas.
But it’s not just about the battle for the White House.
Texans are also weighing in on congressional, legislative, statewide and county races, not to mention casting ballots in local races to settle issues ranging from whether alcohol may be sold in some areas to whether the Texas Rangers should get a new ballpark.
Early voting runs through Friday. Election Day is Nov. 8.
In the first seven days of early voting, turnout was high statewide in major metropolitan areas, with Harris, Dallas and Tarrant counties topping the list, according to the most recent records of in-person and mail-in ballot turnout from the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.
Percentage wise, Collin County saw the biggest turnout, with 35 percent of its voters casting ballots in the first seven days, and Cameron County saw the least, with 15.2 percent, state records show.
In Tarrant County, 299,106 ballots were cast by 27 percent of local voters during that time.
“We were certainly prepared for it,” said Frank Phillips, Tarrant County’s election administrator. “I think it’s the high interest in this election.”
In fact, Phillips said he wouldn’t be surprised if around half of the nearly 1.1 million registered voters in Tarrant County vote before Nov. 8.
“We think the trend will continue,” he said.
Early voting runs through Friday. Election Day is Nov. 8.
During the first week of early voting in Tarrant County, election officials were nearly overwhelmed with calls about voters worried that the Hart InterCivic eSlate machines used were flipping votes.
The calls and concerns — which have since tapered off — began after the story of one voter’s complaint about trying to cast a straight-party Republican vote and noticing that the presidential vote flipped to Democrat went viral on social media.
That woman’s issue was resolved before her ballot was cast, but it sparked concerns and a slew of phone calls to Tarrant County elections officials, who stressed that the equipment used for local voters is secure and operating properly.
They’ve encouraged voters to go slow and steady because problems that have been found have been from voter error.
“We get one or two calls occasionally now,” Phillips said. “But it’s quieter now, we aren’t fielding the initial calls we were the first two or three days.
“Now it’s just business as usual.”
In Tarrant County, some of the biggest local turnouts have been at Keller Town Hall, Fort Worth’s Southwest Sub-courthouse and Longhorn Activity Center, Arlington’s South Service Center and Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington, and Mansfield’s Sub-courthouse, local election records show.
Some voters have complained that poll workers insist people can’t cast ballots without showing a photo ID.
That’s not the case.
Any voter with a photo ID should show it to vote.
Tarrant County voters having problems with any election-related issue should call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683.
The seven state-approved photo IDs are: Texas driver’s license, Texas Election Identification Certificate, Texas personal identification card, Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, U.S. military ID card with photo, U.S. citizenship certificate with photo and U.S. passport. The IDs must be current or have been expired for no longer than four years.
But any voter who doesn’t have a photo ID — and can’t “reasonably obtain a form of approved photo ID” before the election — may sign a declaration stating why he or she couldn’t obtain a photo ID.
When those voters show show a document such as an original birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government document, they should be cleared to vote.
If anyone is having problems with this or any other election-related issue, they should call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683.
For any election related questions, call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683.
Early voting sites
Early votes may be cast in person for the Nov. 8 general and special election from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day this week. Early voting ends at 7 p.m. Friday.
Here’s where Tarrant County voters may cast early ballots in person, according to the Tarrant County election officials.
Tarrant County Elections Center, 2700 Premier St., Fort Worth. This is the main early voting site. Emergency and limited ballots are available there.
All Saints Catholic Church Parish Hall, 200 NW 20th St.
Arlington Sub-courthouse, 700 E. Abram St.
Asia Times Square II, 2615 W. Pioneer Parkway, Grand Prairie
Bedford Public Library, 2424 Forest Ridge Drive
Benbrook Community Center, 228 San Angelo Ave.
B.J. Clark Annex, Room 4, 603 Southeast Parkway, Azle
Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center St., Arlington
Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington, 4002 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington
Colleyville City Hall, 100 Main St.
Crowley Community Center, 900 E. Glendale St.
Dan Echols Center, 6801 Glenview Dr., North Richland Hills
Diamond Hill/Jarvis Branch Library, 1300 NE 35th St., Fort Worth
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school district Administration Building 6, Training Room, 1200 Old Decatur Road, Saginaw
Euless Public Library, 201 N. Ector Drive
Elzie Odom Athletic Center, 1601 NE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
Forest Hill Civic and Convention Center, 6901 Wichita St., Forest Hill
The REC of Grapevine, 1175 Municipal Way
Griffin Sub-courthouse, 3212 Miller Ave., Fort Worth
Haltom City Northeast Center, 3201 Friendly Lane
Handley/Meadowbrook Community Center, 6201 Beaty St., Fort Worth
Hurst Recreation Center, 700 Mary Drive
JPS Health Center Viola M. Pitts/Como, Lower Level, Suite 100, 4701 Bryant Irvin Road N.
Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway
Kennedale Community Center, 316 W. Third St.
Lake Park Operations Center, 5610 Lake Ridge Parkway, Grand Prairie
Longhorn Activity Center, 5350 Basswood Blvd., Fort Worth
Mansfield Sub-courthouse, 1100 E. Broad St.
Northeast Courthouse, Bear Creek Community Room, 645 Grapevine Highway, Hurst
Rosemont Middle School, 1501 W. Seminary Dr., Fort Worth
Sheriff's Office North Patrol Division, 6651 Lake Worth Blvd., Lake Worth
Southlake Town Hall, 1400 Main St.
South Service Center, 1100 SW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
Southside Community Center, 959 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth
Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Ave.
Southwest Sub-courthouse, 6551 Granbury Road, Fort Worth
Tarrant County College Southeast Campus, EMB- C Portable Building, 2100 Southeast Parkway, Arlington
Tarrant County Plaza Building, 201 Burnett St.
Villages of Woodland Springs Amenity Center, 12209 Timberland Blvd., Fort Worth
White Settlement Public Library, 8215 White Settlement Road
Worth Heights Community Center, 3551 New York Ave., Fort Worth
Several temporary early voting sites have special days and hours. They are:
▪ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. through Thursday: Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Student Center NSTU 1506, 828 W. Harwood Road, Hurst; Northwest Campus, Student Union WSTU 1303/05, 4801 Marine Creek Parkway, Fort Worth; South Campus Student Center, 5301 Campus Drive, Fort Worth.
▪ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. through Friday: UTA, Maverick Activities Center, 500 W. Nedderman Drive, Arlington; TCU, Brown-Lupton University Union, 2901 Stadium Drive.