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Despite In-Person Voting Lag, Bexar County Has Seen More Registrations, Mail-In Ballots Compared To 2016

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Several voters wait in line at the Lions Field Park polling location of Broadway. The line had several hundred people in it an hour after polls opened on the first day of early voting, Oct. 13, 2020.
Kathleen Creedon
Texas Public Radio
Several voters wait in line at the Lions Field Park polling location of Broadway on the first day of early voting. The line extended around the border of the park.

The second week of early voting has commenced in Texas, and many counties across the state have surpassed their 2016 voter turnout so far — but not Bexar.

Bexar County is 20,000 votes behind the first six days of the 2016 election, according to Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen. However, she said she expects the extra six days of early voting granted by Gov. Greg Abbott to put the county well above the turnout from the last presidential election.

“I think our voters are creatures of habit. We see the voters who really want to vote. They're in line that first day, the second day, and then it'll start to even out and again. We'll see the huge burst at the very end. That's sort of what we see here in Bexar County all the time,” Callanen told TPR’s “The Source” on Monday.

Compared to the first six days of the 2016 election, Harris County has seen 103,702 more voters in this election so far. Dallas County has seen 13,282 more voters and Travis County has seen 891 more.

Texas is leading the country in number of ballots cast so far this election. As of Sunday, more than 4 million votes had been cast.

Despite Bexar County’s lag in early voting numbers, Callanen said the area is exceeding expectations in two other areas: voter registration and mail-in voting.

“We have seen a huge jump in our voter registration numbers. We now have 1,189,000 people registered to vote. When we did 2016 we had 1,049,000. So we've had about 150,000 people register to vote in those last four years,” she said.

Statewide, nearly 17 million people are registered to vote in the upcoming election — a new state record. The number is an increase of nearly 1.9 million voters from the last presidential election in 2016.

Callanen also said that she thinks the county will need to adapt to more online registration options.

“We've had to adapt. And I think this is going to be one change that will help us get that online voter registration across that goal line,” she said.

As for mail-in voting, Bexar County has seen a record turnout. According to county records, 105,000 mail ballots have been sent out.

“And we’ve received back 62,673. We have a 59% return — that’s unheard of,” Callanen said a press briefing on Monday. The former record for highest number of mail ballots was 58,000 in 2016.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

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Kathleen Creedon can be reached at kathleen@tpr.org or on Twitter at @Kath_Creedon