More than 1 million vote early in Harris County, Latino turnout remains steady

How enthusiastic are Texans about early voting this year?

According to the Secretary of State, early voting numbers so far are more than 70 percent of the total number of voters in 2016 election.

In Harris County, the clerk's office reports more than 1 million have cast their votes early. 859,962 voted in-person and 140,514 mail ballots have been returned.

"For the first week of early voting we had almost 100,000 voters turn out every single day," said Irene Nuñez with the Harris County Clerk's Office.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo says the previous record was set in 2016. According to the Harris County Clerk’s Office, 977,279 votes were cast during the early voting period that year, with a total of 1,388,898 votes cast for the General Election.

So far, 54 percent of early voters in the 2020 election in the county are women.

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Professor Brandon Rottinghaus with the University of Houston believes that means more votes for Democrats.

"Women are definitely voting in big numbers in Harris County. That benefits Democrats because there's a tremendous gender gap that has opened up so the top of the ticket race," he explained.

Rottinghaus also looks at voter party affiliation based on how they voted in the last primary.

In the first days of early voting, he says, turnout favored Democrats but the numbers more or less evened out since then.

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Then, there's the Latino vote.

A poll last month by the University of Houston predicted a large increase in early voting among Latinos.

So far, that's not been the case in Harris County.

"We're seeing early voting among Latinos to be more or less where it was in 2016," Rottinghaus added.


Based on Spanish surnames, Latinos make up an estimated 23 percent of voters in Harris County.

"We're seeing that we have a little over 130,000 votes cast so far," Nuñez referring to voters with Spanish surnames. "Now we compare that to 2016, and there were a little 150,000 votes cast by Spanish surname voters during the early voting period."

Nuñez notes there was a 40 percent increase in early voting among Latinos in 2016 compared to 2012.

With one more week of early voting left in Harris County, Nuñez predicts 2020 Latino turnout will surpass the 2016 figure.
Early voting ends in Texas on October 30, with Election Day on November 3.