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Vote 2017

The Schneider Report: Harvey Expected To Depress Voter Turnout For Nov. 7 Elections

From Monday to Friday this week, our political expert Andrew Schneider will focus on a different aspect of Election 2017; This time, he explores why is it that even though voter turnout is already lower in off year elections, Hurricane Harvey has made things even worse.

voting booths
Florian Martin


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Early voting for the November 7 elections has begun across Texas. Turnout typically drops during off-year elections. But it's expected to fall even lower than usual, thanks to Harvey.

Nearly two months after Harvey, more than 100,000 people are still displaced from their homes in Houston and Harris County alone. The storm totaled thousands of cars in a city dependent on private transportation. All that makes it a lot harder for would-be voters to get to the polls. And that's assuming people even realize an election is coming.

"Because of Harvey, people have been focused on more their immediate needs, and there's not as many people focusing on this election," says Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart. "That means, though, if you do participate, that your impact will be very significant when there's a smaller turnout."

Harris is far from the only county likely to face lower voter turnout due to Harvey. Last Friday, Governor Abbott extended disaster declarations for 60 counties. According to the Texas Secretary of State's office, those counties hold close to 5 million registered voters combined, about a third of the state's electorate.