In October, early voters lined up at University Park United Methodist Church. Photo by Bret Redman.

Politics & Government

Early Voting Totals Show Low Turnout for Dallas City Council Elections

But turnout is always low for local elections. Do these numbers tell us anything else?

Last fall, a record-setting 802,972 ballots were cast in Dallas County during early voting for the 2020 presidential election, accounting for more than 57 percent of registered voters. Great. Early voting for the May 1 election wrapped up Tuesday. How are we doing this go-round? Not so great, according to unofficial totals from the county’s elections office.

About 69,100 ballots have been cast in Dallas County, putting turnout so far at about 5 percent of registered voters. In the city of Dallas, just a little more than 36,000 votes have been counted. Ouch. Maybe everybody’s waiting for Election Day on Saturday.

Turnout looks especially bad when compared to the level of interest in presidential elections, but it always does. Voters are putting up numbers similar to what you usually see in local elections here. If anything, you might note an upward trend in early voting participation. In the spring of 2019, when the mayoral race drummed up some interest beyond the City Council contests that happen every two years, about 45,700 city of Dallas residents took advantage of early voting. More than 23,000 people voted early in Dallas City Council races in 2017, and more than 19,000 early votes were counted in the city in 2015, when former Mayor Mike Rawlings won re-election.

Of the 69,000 ballots counted in Dallas County so far, more than 65,000 were cast in-person. You can see here which early voting locations got the most traffic over the last week and a half of early voting. I wouldn’t read too much into this. Voters in Dallas County can go to any polling location they choose. If you live in Pleasant Grove but work downtown and go to vote at the central library branch, you’re still voting on the council race in Pleasant Grove. If you live in Far North Dallas but go vote at the Richardson Civic Center, you’re still voting on a Dallas City Council race. Regardless, here’s your county-wide Top 5 polling locations with their totals:

  • Fretz Park Library in Far North Dallas (4,310)
  • Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in North Dallas (3,540)
  • Richardson Civic Center (3,393)
  • Coppell Town Center (3,330)
  • Lakewood Branch Library in East Dallas (3,112)

Election Day is Saturday. Let’s see if we can top 10 percent turnout.

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