The polls are just right over there. (Flickr Creative Commons)

Local Government

Dallas’ Abysmal Early Voting Numbers Somehow Are Not the Worst in Texas

Fewer than 27,000 county residents took to the polls over the last two weeks to decide things like the bond package and state constitutional amendments.

If we’re going by early voting results, Dallas County residents prefer complaining to voting. For two weeks, voters in the city of Dallas could’ve taken to any polling place in the city to OK the issuance of $1.05 billion in debt to fix streets and add parks and do all sorts of other infrastructure and quality of life improvements. Just 14,729 did so. Which I guess is surprising if you’re only listening to the years of complaints about the city’s pothole problem. Countywide, we’re looking at 26,669—2.09 percent of registered voters in the county—total. 

This bond election was the first of the last three that wasn’t buoyed by a vote for larger offices. In 2006, Dallasites got to vote for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, congressional representatives, judges, and more. In 2012, we got all those down-ticket state positions but president instead of governor. This year, the bond is just under double the amount of money that voters approved in 2012, and its other big-ticket choices are a handful of state constitutional amendments and whether to kill the beleaguered agency that provides transportation to the county’s school districts.

And so it’s a bit apples to oranges comparing those years: An average of 265,589 voted on the three bond propositions in 2012. In 2006, the dozen propositions averaged public input of 172,209 votes each. It is difficult to imagine Election Day on Tuesday getting us anywhere near those numbers, especially considering the dismal turnout of our May City Council election.

We’re hardly the only county in the state seeing such apathy toward voting. The state averaged a 2.5 percent turnout in early voting. Travis County, home to Austin, is leading the way in early voting with an astounding 5.48 percent turnout. Of Travis’ 725,541 voters, 39,760 have cast ballots. Dallas beats Tarrant (1.98 percent) and Bexar, home to San Antonio (1.9 percent). Yet it trails Harris, which saw a 2.55 percent turnout.

If you haven’t voted, Tuesday is your day. Find your polling place here. Read our guide to every proposition in the bond package. Read and watch NBC 5’s terrific coverage of the problems in Dallas County Schools. And here is a handy guide to the state constitutional amendments.

Editor’s note: The post was updated to reflect the total votes within the city of Dallas. 

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