Jacquelyn F. Callanen, Bexar County Election Department Elections Administrator, wears a "VOTE!" mask as she speaks at a press conference on Oct. 19. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

While more than 207,000 people have already cast their ballots in person during the first six days of early voting, that number is about 20,000 votes behind the first six days of the 2016 presidential election, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen said Monday.

“That’s phenomenal, in six days,” she said of the turnout so far. 

She still anticipates a record-breaking number of early votes to be cast this year as early voting continues through Oct. 30. Gov. Greg Abbott extended the early voting period to 18 days as a way to adapt to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. There are more than 1,181,000 registered voters in Bexar County eligible to vote in the November election. In 2016, there were about 1,050,000 people registered. In November 2016, 475,999 people voted early, accounting for almost 80 percent of the total votes cast in an election that saw 57 percent turnout.

While lines at polling places have been long, the pandemic has caused more voters to request and submit mail-in ballots. Bexar County voters already have broken the record for mail-in ballots, Callanen said. In 2016, the Elections Department mailed out 58,000 ballots and voters sent back about 39,000. According to the latest Bexar Facts/KSAT/San Antonio Report poll, 17 percent of those surveyed in September said they planned to vote by mail and 59 percent planned to participate in early voting.

By Monday, the Elections Department had mailed out 105,447 ballots and received 62,673 completed ballots back. And the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Friday, still four days away.

“How high can we go?” Callanen said. 

About 300 people each day have come to the Elections Department to hand-deliver their mail-in ballots, along with about 1,300 people a day who bring the mail-in ballots they requested to polling places to be canceled so they can vote in person instead.

“There’s tons of moving parts,” Callanen said. “But it’s absolutely wonderful. … It’s exciting to see the lines.”

The Elections Department will add 18 more polling places for Election Day to comply with a judge’s order, Callanen said Monday. On Wednesday, a Bexar County district court judge ordered the Elections Department to add the additional polling sites and post the list of Election Day polling locations earlier than originally planned. The order came after MOVE Texas and the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) filed a lawsuit alleging the county was violating state election code by having too few poll locations on Election Day, among other claims.

Callanen said the Elections Department has until Thursday to add 18 polling sites for Election Day. She declined to disclose the number of voting machines being used during the November election, but said the County was using more machines than in previous years.

Early voting continues through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3. Find out more about how and when to vote here.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.