HOUSTON- The November election is a little more than a month away, but it’s already breaking records in Harris County, with more voters than ever asking for mail-in ballots.
When someone hears the phrase “history in the making”, chances are they’re not thinking of a mailroom on the fourth floor of a downtown Houston government building. However, that’s exactly what was happening inside the Harris County Clerk’s office on Monday, as several hundred of the more than 90,000 mail-in ballots already requested made their way to Harris County voters, while completed ballots made their way back nearly as fast.
“We’ve got hundreds of them coming in right now,” said Stan Stanart, Harris County Clerk. “It’s gonna go well over 100,000.”
An all-time high, says Stanart, Harris County's top election official, thanks to a boom of aging baby boomers who, for the first time, only have to fill out one application to get all of the year's ballots mailed to them.
"Harris County has been probably the most competitive county in the country, surely the most competitive in Texas,” said Bob Stein, KHOU 11’s political analyst.
Stein says it's the Democrat voters that tend to be older and live in urban areas with long lines, and now they're being aggressively recruited by their local party.
"They're going to be getting a yeoman's share of this,” said Stein, of the mail-in ballots. “More importantly, I think this does add on to what we've seen with new registrations."
Specifically, new Hispanic voters. The number of people with Hispanic last names that registered to vote in 2016 is at an all-time-high, with more than 64,000 voters, or a quarter of new voters signed up in 2016. Nearly 200,000 voters with Hispanic last names have signed up to vote since the last Presidential election, according to voter rolls and Census data crunched by KHOU.
Stein says mail in ballots are a pretty good indicator of turnout, but the better one is early voting.
He also thinks the races for District Attorney and Sheriff will help bring even more people out to the polls this presidential election year.
"Presidentials always turn out huge numbers,” said Stanart. “We did 1.2 million the last presidential election. We're anticipating we could go as high as 1.4 million this presidential election.”
That number would also be a record, and Stanart says the nation’s third largest county has already taken steps to prepare, hiring nearly 700 temporary workers to help with applications and help run a record-number 46 early voting locations.
The deadline to register to vote is October 11. Early voting runs October 24-November 4, with Election Day on November 8.
Mail-in ballots can be requested through October 28th by anyone 65 or older, disabled, or out of Harris County on Election Day. For more information, click here.
(© 2016 KHOU)