Collin County early voting came to a close Tuesday as 39,736 residents voted during early voting with 1,108 mail-in ballots.
Bruce Sherbet, election administrator for the Collin County Elections office, reported a 7.2 percent turnout for early voting, which is below the 10-12 percent projection but still on par for previous local elections.
“Nothing surprising on either side of it,” Sherbet said. “It’s not way more or way less. It’s just going to be on the bubble.”
Most of the larger Collin County cities remained constant with early turnout this year.
Allen remained constant with 9 and 10 percent turnout for Allen ISD and City Council.
Plano reported 8.97 and 8.11 percent turnout for City Council and School Board elections, respectively. McKinney and Frisco experienced about 4-5 percent voter turnout, and the Collin College trustee election reported 7 percent.
Meanwhile, Celina experienced huge voter turnout, with over 900 residents casting their ballots during early voting, triple the 2017 municipal election, which saw just over 300 votes.
Sherbet said local elections tend to have higher turnout rates when a mayoral seat is up for grabs, but since these are city council and school board elections, turnout was just as expected.
While Collin County remains consistent, early voting in neighboring communities have begun to trend downward. Election officials said county voter turnout through Thursday in Denton County was 1.3 percent of registered voters. That’s down from 1.4 percent in 2018 and 2.4 percent in 2017.
“Turnout is definitely lower this time,” said Frank Phillips, elections administrator. “It’s very unfortunate because local elections can affect a voter’s daily life far more than federal and state elections. ... It’s hard to say why turnout is lower because we really don’t get feedback from those who aren’t voting.”
Collin County population has experienced tremendous growth, recently reaching over 1 million residents in 2018, a 28 percent increase. Yet for local elections, they rarely see voter turnout more than 15 percent.
Even in Plano, with over 20 candidates for City Council and School Board combined, turnout remains routine. Sherbet said sometimes a hotly contested bond issue or a contentious council race can drive up turnout. Engagement hinges on how invested residents are in the issues on the ballot, “but that changes from election to election,” he said.
In the race for Allen City Council Place 4, voters will choose between Melanie Hughes and Chris Schulmeister. In Place 6, Jon Toney is challenging incumbent Baine Brooks. Council also called a charter amendment election on May 4 that would provide term limits for the mayor and council members.
Also on Allen voters’ ballot is a $422,800,000 proposed bond for Allen ISD that would fund several school renovations and upgrades, technology expansion, more buses and added security.