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Record Turnout Of Bexar County Voters Head To Polls On Rainy Election Day

The voting center at Palo Alto College in San Antonio on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
Kathleen Creedon
Texas Public Radio
The voting center at Palo Alto College in San Antonio on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

Bexar County voters endured steady and sometimes heavy rain throughout Saturday as they lined up at polling places to decidemayoral, city council, proposition and school boardelections.

Strong storms swept across the county throughout Saturday morning and afternoon. The National Weather Service placed most of the region under a flash flood warning until late afternoon.

As the storms moved off to the northeast, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen was upbeat in an interview with TPR.

"The election is going quite, quite well. We’re having a good turnout," she said. "Of course, it slowed down for a little bit with the rain, but as of half-time today we had 25,000 people who had already voted. ... When you compare that to 2019, for the entire election we had 37,000 people the entire day. And so we’re doing much better than we had done in 2019."

She added that she was hoping to see up to 55,000 voters by the end of the day.

At 6:35 p.m., with less than a half hour to go before polls close, she posted on her Facebook page: "With 30 minutes left to vote we have had 45,871. We are hoping to break 50,000 - it will be close. If you are in line at 7:00 pm you will be able to vote."

Callanen was also happy with early voting numbers.

"We were really thrilled -- we ended early voting with over 101,000 people," she explained. "In 2019 we had had 67,000 people vote early. So again, we’re doing really good numbers."

By 7 p.m., the Elections Department reported absentee and early votes exceeded 115,000.

"Like always, any voter can vote at any poll because we have vote centers here in Bexar County which we're really proud of," Callanen added, "so they may not have to drive across town to get to their home precinct if they're out in this weather."

She explained on Friday that if a polling location closed due to a weather-related issue, such as loss of power, voters would be directed to four alternative polling locations nearby. Election judges would post alternative locations in the window or at the distance marker of the closed location. The Elections Department website will also update location closures.

"All of our units are powered by battery, should the storm continue. And we’re ready," she said on Saturday.

By Saturday afternoon, there were no reports of closures.

The San Antonio Fire Department reported at least eight water rescue operations because of the storms. Dozens of low water crossings throughout Bexar County closed. CPS reported dozens of outages affecting more than a thousand customers, but by late afternoon most were resolved.

Rainfall totals through Saturday night were expected to amount to 1 to 2 inches for the city, with isolated amounts of three to four inches. Rainfall totals will be higher in counties closer to the coast. Up to six inches could fall on some spots.

Recent rains have reduced the city's annual rainfall deficit to just eight-tenths of an inch, but 2020 ended with a rainfall deficit of nearly 1 foot.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reported all of Bexar County was in drought conditions, with severe drought conditions in the northwest part of the county.

Stage Two water restrictions continued for San Antonio residents who can only water landscaping with automatic sprinklers just once a week based on their street address.

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