More than 1.1 million residents are registered to vote in Bexar County this election cycle, a record high, according to numbers released this week by the county elections department.
This year, about 76 percent of the voting-age population is registered. That’s an increase from 2016, when 73 percent was registered, and 2014, when 70 percent was registered.
The Bexar County Elections Department, which finished processing voter registration applications on Monday, processed 50,949 applications, Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said. Of those, only 22,131 were new registrants; the rest were duplicate applications. Callanen said she even saw one person who sent in four applications.
“That’s 56.3 percent [duplicates],” Callanen said. “It’s frustrating for us. That was a lot of time, energy, resources” devoted to processing applications. Duplicate applications came from people who were already registered to vote and those who filled out multiple applications, she said.
Callanen said counties all over Texas dealt with similar issues of duplicates and backlog. A lot of the backlog came from voter registration applications being sent to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, which had to sort through applications and mail them to the correct county registrars, she said.
“We were accepting these cards well after the deadline,” she said.
When Bexar County residents fill out voter registration applications from entities other than the County – including Vote.org – those cards get automatically addressed and shipped to the Secretary of State’s office, Callanen explained.
Although the total numbers of registered Bexar County voters is a record, this year’s increase in new registrations between the March primaries and the Oct. 9 registration deadline did not meet the increase in the 2014 midterm elections, Callanen said.
“[From the primary election cycle to the general election cycle,] we had 43,000 people register in 2014, and 72,000 in 2016,” she said. “For this election, we had 36,000. It didn’t even match the 2014 numbers.”
Callanen said she doesn’t know if the number of registrations will translate to higher voter turnout. “We’re hoping,” she said. “It’s too early to tell.”
More than 34,000 people cast ballots Monday during the first day of early voting, with long lines at many polling places. The number far exceeded the approximately 13,000 people who voted on the first day of early voting in the 2014 midterms.
Election officials typically see a surge during the first three days and last three days of early voting, Callanen said. Early voting continues through Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 6.