HOUSTON — With eight days to go until Election Day, early voting numbers are way down. Approximately 20,000 fewer ballots have been cast this year compared to the last race for Houston Mayor in 2015.
KHOU political analyst Bob Stein has been taking a closer look at voting totals and says there are several factors likely influencing the low voter turnout.
One of those reasons is Houston's World Series mania.
"One explanation is the Astros," said Stein. "Because early voting occurs heaviest on the first two and last two days one of the things we thought is maybe people were going home at 4,5, or 6 o'clock and they weren't going to the polls. They wanted to have dinner and get ready for the Astros game."
Before early voting began last week, experts predicted 2019's turnout could break records, but that appears unlikely now.
"We'll barely equal what we had in 2015," said Stein.
Fans focus on the Astros is just one of several likely factors. The first three days of early voting typically see the biggest turnout, but it rained.
The race for Houston Mayor has also turned too negative for the electorate.
"Right now what we're looking at are all three top candidates going very very negative and that will suppress turnout," said Stein.
Stein says Turner is all but assured a first place finish, but will be forced into a runoff. A low turnout could breathe new life into Bill King's campaign.
"Right now the campaign is not between Mr. Buzbee and Sylvester Turner, it is between Buzbee and King," said Stein. They're fighting for second place. Low voter turnout helps Bill King I believe. Why? Voters who turn out are voters who are frequent voters. They're more likely to remember Bill King."
This will also be the first election where voters can cast their ballots at any one of the 745 polling places on Election Day. So there's a possibility people are waiting this time.
"Most voters know this and might find Election Day voting more convenient," said Stein.
And with two chances this week for the Astros to win a World series, Stein says don't expected early voting turnout to boom before it wraps up Friday.
"The next heaviest turnout would be Thursday or Friday," said Stein. "If the Astros win on Tuesday or Wednesday league rules require a parade be held within 48 hours. That would be Thursday or Friday.
Safe to say all of Houston would be okay with a little less early voting turnout and an Astros parade on Friday, but there is no excuse not to cast your ballot. There are four more days left this week and then hundreds of polling places on Election Day.
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