Early Voting in Texas Has Already Surpassed the State’s Vote Total from 2016

Turnout for the presidential race in Texas is already greater this year than it was four years ago, with 9 million residents voting early or with mail-in absentee ballots as of Friday morning.

In 2016, just 8.96 million votes were cast in the presidential race. With four days left before November 3, and just one more day of early voting allowed in the Lone Star State, turnout is likely to be even higher, as a number of Texans are expected to vote in-person on Election Day.

According to reporting from CNN, turnout from early voting so far accounts for 53 percent of all registered voters in the state. The turnout rate exceeds what was seen in Texas in 2016, when 51.1 percent took part in that year’s race.

Most of the early voting in Texas has been in-person, because the state has restrictions on who can vote using mail-in absentee ballots. Only those who are sick or disabled, imprisoned but not disenfranchised, over the age of 65, or outside of their home county during the voting period can take part in the absentee vote, per state law.

Cook Political Report has placed Texas within the “tossup” category of states in the presidential race — a dramatic development for a state rarely seen as competitive. Polling data indicates the state’s final results will likely be close, with an aggregate of polls from RealClearPolitics showing that President Donald Trump is leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden by just 2.3 percent.

That number is within the margin of error for all five polls currently being considered on the website. The most recent poll in Texas listed at RealClearPolitics, from UMass Lowell, has Trump’s lead down to just 1 percent, well-within the margin of error of 4.2 points in that poll and thus a statistical tie.

Trump won Texas and its 38 Electoral College votes in 2016 against Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton by around 9 points.

Early voting is up across the rest of the country, in large part due to fears about voting in person en masse during the coronavirus pandemic. As of Friday, 84.6 million early votes have been recorded in the U.S., with 36 million mail-in ballots still remaining. (For comparison, 58 million Americans voted early in 2016.) The current early ballot count is equal to 61 percent of the total vote that was observed four years ago.

The increases in early voting and absentee ballots could mean that results of the election won’t be known until days after November 3, as the influx of counting ballots all at once may mean delays in tabulating the final vote count.