Two young woman enter the Lion's Field poll site.
Two young woman enter the Lion's Field poll site an hour before early voting ends. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

By the time polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, nearly 82,000 people had voted early for the June 8 runoff election.

Even with a brief thunderstorm, Tuesday had the early voting period’s strongest turnout with 13,239 voters.

“Considering it rained most of the day … we were pleasantly surprised,” Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said.

Early voting turnout for this year’s municipal runoff elections were well ahead of 2017 city runoff election, thanks to strong numbers from the beginning of the voting period, Callanen said.

“When we looked at last year’s [numbers] through Saturday, we had 39,000 people vote in the runoff,” Callanen said Monday. “And when we finished through Saturday this election, we had 58,000. It was a nice uptick.”

Gina Sandoval spent the last few hours of early voting Tuesday at Lions Field campaigning for Mayor Ron Nirenberg with her husband. The turnout at Lions Field seemed to have paused during the downpour, she said, but she had seen quite a few voters earlier in the day.

“I was at Cody Library earlier during lunchtime and there were more folks coming out,” she said. “The numbers looked good.”

Early voting started last Tuesday with 12,918 voters – the largest turnout San Antonio has seen on the first day of early voting in recent years, according to the Bexar County Elections Department.

More than 10,000 voters cast ballots each day during the early voting period. On Monday, 10,285 people voted, and by Tuesday, the early vote tally rose to 81,796 voters. In 2017, 69,503 people voted early.

Only 66,875 people voted early during the general election in May.

Olga Roper voted early on Tuesday at Brook Hollow Library and said her sense of duty pushed her to the polls. She said she believes citizens have a responsibility to vote in local elections.

“I am very passionate about voting all the time and for my city and my country,” Roper said. “I am blessed, but there are so many that are not blessed, so I am the advocate of those that are not blessed.”

Callanen said that this year’s numbers follow a trend of increased voter turnout the City has seen in the past two city runoff elections. In 2015, 98,000 people cast ballots in the runoff. In 2017, 99,000 people voted. San Antonio is on track to pass that number by election day, Callanen said.

“We’ve seen a higher turnout in the last two runoffs that we had for the city,” she said. “So if this one continues [on its path], we can honestly say we have a pattern. We went into this election planning on [turnout] being higher. We always plan based on our last elections.”

More than 784,000 people were eligible to vote in the runoff election. The mayoral race and City Council Districts 2, 4, and 6 are on the June ballot.

If you missed the early voting period, you have one more opportunity to vote on Saturday. Callanen reminded voters that as long as they are registered in the City of San Antonio, they can cast a ballot.

“If they didn’t vote in May, they can still vote now,” she said.

Dylan McCarley did not vote in the May election but cast his ballot on Tuesday at Lions Field. He said he has never been very involved in politics, and that his main motivation for voting in this election was peer pressure from his politically active friends.

“The last time I mentioned that I didn’t vote, they were very vocal about it,” McCarley said.

Saturday is Election Day. Voters must go to their assigned precinct to vote. Find your precinct here.

Photographer Bonnie Arbittier and editorial intern Laura Morales contributed to this report.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.