Voter Turnout Exceeds Expectations

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – In a country divided, there are very few certainties. One thing, however, is clear. The polarization surrounding President Donald Trump has mobilized an extraordinary amount of voters who normally sit on the sidelines during mid-term elections.

Houston County Elections Administrator Cynthia Lum reported voter turnout during the first eight days of the 12 day early voting period was close to surpassing the entire voter turnout for the 2014 mid-term elections.

“As of yesterday (Oct. 29), we had had 3,062 voters who had voted in person. We also had 518 ballots by mail which had been returned. That doesn’t mean they count, yet. These are people who voted by mail and we are still waiting for verification on their signatures,” Lum said.

In Houston County, there are 13,088 registered voters and through Monday nearly 28 percent of all voters had cast a ballot.

“We have already reached the normal amount of people who come out and vote. We are going over that because we are just now going on our second week of early voting,” she said.

In the 2014 elections, Lum said a total of 4,215 people voted and for the 2016 presidential election, “… Houston County had a total of 7,874 voters who came out. That was our highest number ever. We will probably match – if not beat that.”

To the north, in Anderson County – through Monday, Oct. 29 – the elections office reported 6,010 people had voted early. There are approximately 28,000 registered voters in the county, according to Elections Administrator Casey Brown.

Anderson County falls in line with Ryan’s aforementioned study which indicated 21 to 28 percent of registered voters had voted early. The Monday percentage showed Anderson County with a 21.4 early voting turnout.

In Houston County, early voting ends on Friday, Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m. while in Anderson County the polls close at 6:30 pm on Friday, Nov. 2.

An analysis of early voting in the 2018 elections was conducted by political consultant Derek Ryan during the first week of early voting. Ryan used the 15 most populous counties in Texas for his survey and reached several interesting conclusions pertaining to voter turnout during the first week of early voting.

In an article published in the Houston Chronicle on Monday, Oct. 29, Ryan noted the 2018 totals had already surpassed the 2014 totals with nearly a week of early voting still remaining.

“In the top 15 most populous counties in Texas, 2,669,506 voters cast in-person ballots and 311,409 cast mail-in ballots through Sunday, in the first seven days of early voting. It took just four days of early voting in the top 15 counties for the tally to surpass the total number of early votes cast in those counties during the 2014 midterms,” the article written by Catherine Marfin stated.

Ryan also noted “… Texas voter rolls grew to over 15.6 million people. That’s a jump of 1.6 million voters since the last midterm election in 2014.”

The article further indicated the number of voters participating in this election is more similar to the 2016 presidential election than any midterm since 2000.

All voters should check their voter registration certificate to determine which precinct they are registered in before Election Day. If there are any questions, please contact your county of residence elections office.

To contact the Anderson County Elections Office please call 903-723-7438 or stop by the Anderson County Annex located at 703 N. Mallard in Palestine. In Houston County, please call 936-544-3255 ext. 243 or stop by the Houston County Courthouse Annex located at 401 East Goliad Ave. in Crockett.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.