This story has been updated.
More than 100,000 voters cast ballots during early voting for the 2021 municipal elections, shattering the previous record for a May election in Bexar County.
Numbers posted Tuesday night on the Bexar County Elections Department’s website showed 26,065 ballots cast on the last day of early voting, for a total of 101, 241 since the voting sites opened April 19.
“As always the last day of early voting has the highest turnout,” Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen posted on Facebook earlier Tuesday. At the time, 10,587 votes had been cast by midday, breaking the previous record set in May 2017, when 77,589 voters cast their ballots prior to election day. An additional 38,633 people voted on election day that year.
About 50 people stood outside Brook Hollow Library around 7 p.m. Tuesday waiting to vote. Many in line were dressed for work, wearing scrubs or business clothes, including San Antonio resident Cindy Paver. Donning a mask, Paver, 65, said she came to the polls with her daughter because of how important elections are.
Sara Paver, 23, agreed with her mom, saying local elections directly affect citizen’s everyday lives and issues that might sound minor can make a difference.
Callanen did not immediately return a call for a comment on the record-setting turnout. Earlier this month, Callanen told the San Antonio Report she believes the increase is due to the city and county’s considerable growth over the past two years.
Although most of the attention is focused on San Antonio’s mayoral and council races, this election includes races in other Bexar County municipalities, such as Alamo Heights, Shavano Park, Kirby, Converse, and Helotes.
San Antonio voters also have the chance to vote on two propositions. Proposition A asks voters if they’d like to expand the use of bond money beyond “public works,” with the intention of being able to use bonds to finance affordable housing. Proposition B asks voters to decide whether to repeal San Antonio’s adoption of the state law that gives local police officers and firefighters collective bargaining rights.
Election officials had been expecting the overall turnout for the May election to be on par with past municipal elections – between 10% and 12%, Callanen said on the first day of early voting.
The poll lines were not long at Encino Library when San Antonio resident Jorge Amodio voted earlier Tuesday. Amodio told the San Antonio Report that he tries to vote in every election, no matter if it’s small or large.
“Voted today, and will vote on every election,” he said. “Many people sacrificed for us to have the right to vote. They deserve respect, and it is a civic duty.”
Brook Hollow Library saw the highest early voting numbers, with 7,964. Julia Yates Semmes Library, Wonderland of the Americas mall, Maury Maverick Library, Cody Library, and Tobin Library followed, each of them topping 5,000 voters.
Tucking her driver’s license into a handbag Tuesday night, Paula Snyder exited Brook Hollow Library after waiting about 30 minutes in line. Snyder said it was great to hear of the record numbers during early voting because local elections are important.
Voter Myilicia Hare said the same.
“This is what affects me the most,” Hare said of municipal elections, adding that she has voted in every local election over the past 20 years. “This is where we get involved in our city.”
Election day is Saturday, May 1. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.