Voters across North Texas didn’t have to be told twice to head to the polls early.
Several counties shattered records Tuesday for the number of voters on the first day of early voting.
In Denton County there were 35,944 who voted Tuesday, surpassing the 16,955 voters who lined up on the first day in 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected president.
County officials headed to social media to express their excitement on the large turnout.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said. “I thought we would have an increase in early voting. But I was surprised it was double from four years ago.”
Eads said an increase in population in Denton County is a partial reason for the larger voter turnout. Still …
“The county has grown, but it hasn’t doubled,” Eads said.
There’s also the social tension that has surrounded the country on both sides of the political fence.
“There’s a lot of pent up energy where people are either against our president or they support him,” Eads said.
Eads said in addition to the voting turnout he is also happy with the number of people who showed up in person.
“I’m proud of the fact that people are voting in person,” Eads said. “It’s a testament to their confidence in the system, the safety protocols and the sanitation protocols we have in place. So kudos to them.”
Eads tweeted out the first day early voting numbers Tuesday night. He said the response to that tweet was surprising as well. Nearly 24 hours after his tweet it had received more than 6,100 likes and approximately 1,000 retweets.
“A lot of people are excited,” Eads said.
Voters in Collin County also hit the polls early. Officials said there were 39,372 residents who cast ballots Tuesday, surpassing the 2016 number of 31,282.
Bruce Sherbet, Collin County’s election administrator, said the spike in voter turnout could come for multiple reasons, including the fact that the county has grown since 2016. Collin County has an additional 100,000 voters registered compared to 2016, Sherbet said.
In addition, Sherbet said, there seems to be an increased interest in the 2020 election. He said in 2016, the county saw a 67% voter turnout.
“We could get closer to 70% turnout if we keep on this course,” he said.
Sherbet noted that this type of turnout in a presidential election is mostly due to the top of the ballot.
“It's not down ballot, in other words,” he added. “They benefit from more voters getting involved in the process, but it's all top of the ticket interest pushing this drive to be like it is.”
Sherbet outlined three indicators that could gauge election turnout. One indicator has to do with mail-in ballots, he said. Collin County mailed roughly 35,000 for the 2020 election, Sherbet said, an increase from the 21,000 it mailed out for the 2016 election.
“So we definitely have upticks on that,” Sherbet said.
The second indicator, how many phone calls the county has rolling in to its phone bank, has also seen an uptick, he said. The final indicator he mentioned is early voting numbers.
“We're already starting gangbusters on that,” Sherbet said. “All those three things usually indicate elevated turnout, elevated interest in the election, and I think that's what we're seeing right now.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Sherbet said the county was well-poised to surpass its 2016 benchmark for the second day of early voting totals. He said at that time that 11.3% of the county’s registered voters had gone to the polls.
“I would say that's a good percent,” Sherbet said. “Definitely a good percentage.”
Collin County is no stranger to a high early voting turnout, Sherbet said. In 2016, 83% of the county’s vote came from early voting, and in 2018, 81% was from early voting. In addition, a strong turnout on the first day of early voting for a presidential election is nothing new, he said. The real indicator will lie in the fact that the early voting period has expanded for this election cycle.
“If it sustains and it votes this way all the way through, we're really looking at some high numbers,” he said.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced on Tuesday evening that the county had 59,809 votes and counting, breaking its 58,775 record from 2016 for first-day early voting totals.