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Early Voting Moves Along At A Brisk Pace

After seven days of early voting, more than 52,000 ballots have been cast, by mail and in person. That could reflect the growing popularity of voting early instead of voting on Election Day.



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Early voting has been moving along at a brisk pace. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a higher election turnout overall, according to Rice University political professor Mark Jones.

“I think that what we’re probably seeing is a move much more similar to what we see on even-year elections, where a majority of the vote this year may actually occur early.”

Jones says the increasing popularity of early voting makes it difficult to predict the overall election turnout.

“Looking at the data thus far I think what these numbers are showing us is that we’re going to have a definitely higher turnout than 2011. I think we’re looking at turnout somewhere between 150,000 and 175,000 for the mayor’s race, which is substantially higher than it was in 2011, but isn’t a dramatic increase in turnout if we think about historic levels.” 

In 2003, just over 21 percent of voters cast ballots early. In 2011, it was almost 31 percent.

“So we’ve had a progressive increase in the proportion of people that have chosen to vote early as opposed to voting on Election Day. So it’s difficult to extrapolate from current data in terms of trying to predict what actual turnout will be. Because one scenario is that turnout will be massively high. The other is that people who normally vote on Election Day are simply voting more and more earlier.” 

It could also be the old reliables taking part in the first days of early voting, with around 90 percent having voted in two of the last three municipal elections.

For more, visit KUHF’s Election Coverage and Information 2013.

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