Early voting up 65 percent in Tarrant County

A voter approaches the polling place on October 31, 2014 at Keller Town Hall. Early voted ended Tuesday and Election Day is Saturday.
A voter approaches the polling place on October 31, 2014 at Keller Town Hall. Early voted ended Tuesday and Election Day is Saturday. Star-Telegram archives

The number of people casting their ballots early this year shattered last year’s totals, with early votes up 65 percent across Tarrant County compared to May 2014.

The numbers were especially high in Arlington, Southlake and Colleyville — all cities with controversial propositions coming to the voters. In those cities, the percentages of registered voters coming out before early voting ended Tuesday are already between 8 and 19 percent.

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips said he is not sure if the early totals broke records, but said the numbers are “way over last year.”

“In a May election, you have a great election if you are at 10 percent turnout, and some of these places are already way over that,” Phillips said.

In Colleyville, where residents are deciding on the fate of Glade Road, the city has already seen 19 percent of its registered voters cast their ballots and the voter turnout out was three times last year’s, with 3,455 people casting ballots early.

In Arlington, where residents are voting on banning the use of red light cameras and deciding a competitive race for mayor, 14,812 residents cast their ballots through Tuesday, more than doubling early voting totals from both the May 2013 and 2014 elections. The city saw 8 percent of its registered voters in the nine days of early voting.

Southlake voters, who are deciding whether or not to decrease their Crime Control and Prevention District tax and then implement an economic development tax, saw 15 percent of its registered voters at the polls.

Votes are up across Tarrant County as a whole: 44,089 voters had cast ballots early in-person and 12,224 had sent in their mail-in ballots. That compares to 26,789 in-person votes and 6,971 mail-in for 2014 and 32,249 in-person votes and 7,120 mail-in for 2013.

“When you look at Colleyville, Southlake and Arlington, they all have propositions and I suspect that is what is bringing people out,” Phillips said.

A few other Tarrant County races also saw heavy turnout in early voting:

▪ The competitive and controversial race to fill two seats on the Tarrant Regional Water District has netted voters, with 11,292 people coming out for early voting, compared to 8,150 in May 2013.

▪ The Arlington school board, which has three trustee slots up, has also seen more voters than in previous years, with 12,667 residents casting their ballots this year compared to 7,103 in 2014 and 5,766 in 2013.

Voters heading to the polls on Saturday should stay tuned to the weather, with forecasters currently calling for a 100 percent chance of rain, with storms and severe weather possible throughout the day.

Phillips said inclement weather does tend to drive down voting.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984

Twitter: @catyhirst