Tom Green County Early Voting Down 9 Percent from 2012 Levels
SAN ANGELO, TX — At the end of the first week of early voting for the U.S. Presidential Election Nov. 8, Tom Green County continues to report lower turnout than this time in 2012.
Early voting commenced at the Edd B. Keyes Building downtown Monday, Oct. 22 when 1,642 voted. Turnout increased averaging about 3 percent per day until Friday Oct. 28, when turnout was 1,906 ballots cast.
So far, 8,931 ballots have been cast. At the end of the first week of early voting in 2012, 9,793 ballots had been cast.
This is about nine percent less turnout than the first week of early voting in 2012. Just over 20,000 of 37,040 voters in Tom Green County voted early in 2012.
Three factors may be in play. The first is most revealing. Since 2012, the county has transitioned to a new voting format called voting centers. As part of that plan, four early voting centers were eliminated, including the Assembly of God (1442 Edmund), Plaza Del Sol Apartments (4375 Oak Grove), River Place Apartments (501 S. Irene), and the Victory Christian Center (1620 Sunset Dr.). The only place to vote early in the county this year is downtown at the Edd B. Keyes building (113 W. Beauregard Ave.). Each of the additional early voting centers accounted for 100-300 in additional turnout, though some of that spillover demand has transitioned to the Keyes building.
|Election||Registered Voters||Total Votes Cast||Turnout|
|March 1, 2016 Primary||61076||19861||32.52%|
|May 7, 2016 Police Chief||53655||10298||19.19%|
|July 2, 2016 Police Chief Runoff||51075||10130||19.83%|
Sightings of long lines at the Keyes building are keeping many away from voting early. If the upward trend of early voters continues, currently growing at about 4 percent per day, waiting may not be the best option to avoid the crowds.
The second factor may be less excitement in down ballot races. In 2012, Senator Ted Cruz was the Republican darling facing a Democratic Party challenger named Paul Sadler (Sadler lost 71.6-24.97 percent). Congressman Mike Conaway faced Democrat Jim Riley (Riley lost 74-23 percent). Republican Mitt Romney carried the county over President Barrack Obama 73-25 percent.
This year, there is no senate race, and Congressman Conaway is running unopposed.
The 2016 race for Tom Green County Sheriff is Democrat Walter Bryant’s do-over. He lost to Republican incumbent Sheriff David Jones 70-26 percent in 2012.
The final reason may be a looser affinity of voters to the candidates for president. A contingent of Republican voters who claim the mantle of “true conservatives” may be as repelled by Republican nominee Donald Trump’s antics as all 25 percent of Tom Green County who are Democrats. Likewise, Democrats may be waiting for the fifth shoe to drop in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s drama over her private email server before deciding for whom to vote or to just stay home.
In the major metropolitan centers of Texas, early voting this year is outstripping 2012, according to the Texas Tribune's data. For example, in Bexar County (San Antonio) early voting turnout is up 27 percent.
Whatever the reason, whether it’s Tom Green County's long lines, not enough decisions to make, or indecision on Trump v. Clinton, time is running out.
The last day of early voting is Friday, Nov. 4. The Keyes building is open 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. throughout the rest of early voting.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Election Day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.