Bexar County’s first two days of early voting saw a record turnout, officials said. 35,431 voters cast their ballots on Monday, an increase of 5,000 from the 2012 presidential election, while 38,603 voted on Tuesday.
The larger turnout complements record highs in voter registration this year. According to the Bexar County Elections Website, 1,045,360 citizens registered to vote, 60-65% of which are expected to participate during the early voting period.
Explaining the phenomenon, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen pointed to the national intensity surrounding the presidential contest.
“It’s all the emotion behind the election,” Callanen told the Rivard Report Wednesday. “It’s going on all across Texas.”
In other respects, Callanen said the turnout matched the “standard voting pattern of Bexar County,” though she declined to comment further on any geographic voter turnout trends.
Early voters can cast their ballots at any one of these 43 locations through Friday, Nov. 4, but come election day on Nov. 8, citizens must vote in their respective precincts. To see where lines are likely to be shortest, check out this breakdown in votes cast by location.
While polling stations appeared to be running smoothly Monday and Tuesday, despite long lines at some locations, some voters were surprised to discover cell phones usage is prohibited. The issue has raised wide regulatory discrepancies across states and even precincts within states. According to a report by ABC News, “ballot selfies” are fully legal in 19 states, illegal in 18, and subject to mixed regulation in 13.
In Texas, however, “There’s no discrepancy,” Callanen said. “You are not allowed to use the cell phone when you are in the polls. It’s against the law.”
Some voters also faced mixed-messages on identification requirements. Signage on the first day failed to reflect Texas’ new Voter ID laws, which allow citizens without photo identification to sign a declaration and verify their identities through alternative documentation. Callanen said election officials have checked all 43 polling sites to ensure they now have the correct signage. The Bexar County Elections homepage, however, still makes no mention of this adjustment.
After a July 2016 federal court ruling declared Texas’ restrictive voting ID laws a violation of the Voting Rights Act, Texas has eased its voting regulations to accept all of the following seven identification documents:
- Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
- Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
- Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
- United States Military identification card containing the person’s photograph
- United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
- United States passport
All documents except the U.S. citizenship certificate must be no more than four years expired.
The Texas Secretary of State added in a news release, “As provided by court order, if a voter does not possess and is not reasonably able to obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID, the voter may vote by (1) signing a declaration at the polls explaining why the voter is reasonably unable to obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID, and (2) providing one of various forms of supporting documentation.
Supporting documentation can be a certified birth certificate (must be an original), a valid voter registration certificate, a copy or original of one of the following: current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and an address.”