With early voting officially underway, candidates and civic organizations are pulling out all the stops to get voters, especially Latinos and millennials, to the polls while encouraging them to bring their family and friends along. The millennial and Latino electorates are two of the fastest-growing and most influential voting blocs in this country, not to mention the state. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos make up 27.4 percent of Texas' eligible voters. Democrats, in particular, are relying on increased turnout among these demographics this election season to close the gaps between their candidates and the Republican contenders.
Locally, organizations like Mi Familia Vota, the National Council of La Raza and MOVE San Antonio banded together to bring more Texans, particularly Latinos, to the polls. MOVE San Antonio, a civic group started by college students dedicated to giving youth a voice in politics, registered more than 4,600 voters this year, mostly on college campuses.
Are the increased statewide and local outreach efforts working? According to the Texas Secretary of State, 8,978,313 Texans are registered to vote in this cycle, compared to 8,339,034 in the last midterm election in 2010. In Bexar County, more than 950,000 residents are registered, a greater number than the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Statewide and local early voting turnout is up compared to the last midterm election in 2010, but a surge at the beginning is typical, said Jacquelyn Callanen, Bexar County's election administrator. As of Monday, when we went to press, 82,988 Bexar County voters had cast an in-person ballot during early voting, which lasts until Friday, October 31. More than 18,000 had mailed in their ballots. Locations in the north, northeast and northwest parts of town have seen the most turnout so far.
"We are dead on for matching our midterm elections by the in-person votes," Callanen said of the first four days of early voting. She said numbers drop after four days or so, then pick up again toward the end. "We have our longest lines and higher numbers the last two days."