This article has been updated.
The first day of early voting for the May 1 election saw a total of 7,070 voters go to the polls Monday, setting a record for first-day turnout for a May election, county officials said.
Despite the record, many polling sites throughout the city had short or nonexistent lines for the first day of the eight-day early voting period.
Outside Brook Hollow Library, dozens of political yard signs peppered the lawn. Local candidates and their supporters stood among the colorful signs and furnished brochures and business cards to the slow trickle of voters.
San Antonio resident Bryan Naylor said local elections are incredibly important. While federal elections tend to grab the attention of voters, local elections have a direct impact on the community, he added.
“Vote or die,” Naylor said. “If I could get that tattooed on me I would.”
In the last city election in May 2019, more than 73,000 votes were cast during early voting. The slight uptick in voters from 2019 and 2017 is likely due to countywide growth, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said.
“We saw 500 more voters [on the first day] than in 2019 and a lot of that can accounted for due to the growth the county had in these last two years,” Callanen said. “The city and county have grown in leaps and bounds. We’re guessing that’s probably what it is.”
County election officials are still expecting the turnout for the May election to be on par with past elections, Callanen added. That is usually between 10% and 12%, she added.
Although most of the attention in this election is focused on San Antonio’s mayoral and council races, the ballot includes items for other county municipalities, such as Alamo Heights, Shavano Park, Kirby, Converse, and Helotes.
“Those folks tend to vote at 20% to 30%,” Callanen said. “Overall [for the county] we are still expecting a total of about 100,000 for this May election.”
San Antonio resident Mary Yoes encouraged locals to get out and vote. Yoes said she has voted in every election, local or national, since moving to San Antonio in 1972.
“Politics are local – it starts here,” Yoes said. “Even if it was just the dog catcher running for office, I’d come out to vote.”
After casting her vote at the Lions Field polling site, Mariah Lange said this election is important because it gives citizens a chance to choose their mayor, city council member, and to vote on propositions that will affect the community.
Propositions A and B could significantly change the San Antonio community, said City Council District 9 candidate Patrick Von Dohlen.
“We’re at a crossroads right now, and this election could determine the way our city functions moving forward,” he said.
Proposition A asks voters if they’d like to expand the use of bond money from “public works” to “public purpose,” with the intention of being able to use bond money to fund affordable housing, and Proposition B asks voters to decide whether to repeal the state law that gives local police officers and firefighters collective bargaining rights. Read more about Proposition A here and Proposition B here.
Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday. Polls will be open Saturday and Monday, April 26, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m, and closed on Sunday. Election day is set for May 1, with polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m. Early voting locations can be viewed here.