In Dallas County's First Five Days of Early Voting, Mail-In Ballot Count up 60%

Line outside the MLK Rec. Center on the first day of early voting.
Line outside the MLK Rec. Center on the first day of early voting. Lauren Drewes Daniels
With five days of early voting in the books, Dallas County voters are casting ballots at a record pace, both in-person and by mail. With an extra week added to early voting because of the coronavirus pandemic, turnout could be historic. 

The Texas Secretary of State's website is updating voting numbers daily for in-person and by mail. We’ve pulled the first five days of early voting in the 2016 election and compared it with the first five days of early voting in 2020. In addition to Dallas County, we also looked at the eight largest counties in the state; data for the 2016 elections is somewhat incomplete with a lot of smaller counties missing, thus the small pool of counties.

In-Person Voting
The lines outside voting centers on the first day of early voting last week were impressive. A long line wrapped around the Oak Cliff sub-courthouse, some waiting more than two hours to vote. Then, surprisingly, when the votes were tallied, they were up only 2.41% from 2016. However, as the week went on, the percentage of change over the same day in the 2016 election grew substantially, peaking on Friday, the fourth day of early voting when 59,054 ballots were cast, a 32% increase over that same day in 2016.

First Five Days of In-Person and Mail-In Votes
Four years ago in Dallas County, there were 279,076 cumulative in-person and mail-in ballots cast through the first five days of early voting. Over the same period this year, which includes Tuesday, Oct. 13, through Saturday, Oct. 17, there were 318,648 votes, an increase of 14%.

Denton County is on fire, up 65%. Harris County is up 30%, and Collin County is up 28%.  

click to enlarge
Based on data pulled from the Secretary of States website, eight Texas counties are pulling in big numbers compared to 2016.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

Mail-In Ballot Numbers So Far
Mail-in ballots in Dallas County have seen a huge jump. In the first five days of early voting in 2016, which represents a week closer to the election since there were only two weeks of early voting that year, there were 28,614 mail-in ballots received and counted. This year, 45,735 have been counted. That’s a 60% increase in Dallas County. (See chart below.) 

One number that sticks out is a 13% drop in Harris County’s mail-in ballots. In early October, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered one mail-in ballot drop off location per county. For Harris County that meant one as opposed to the 11 they’d planned. Some have suggested this is a form of voter suppression. In a state that is breaking records, for this to be down by double-digits is an indicator it is.  

click to enlarge
Voters in every county but Harris are mailing in more ballots than in the 2016 general election.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Check the Status of Mail-In Ballots 
Did you know you can parse through state records to see if your mail-in ballot has been counted yet? It’ll take some digging, but you can head over to the secretary of state's website, select a date, then click the link for your county and search for your name. But, you’ll have to go through each day individually.

Early voting extends through Oct. 30; there are 61 early voting locations around Dallas County and voters can see wait times at each by using this real-time color-coded map. If you’re registered to vote in Dallas County, you can vote at any of these locations. 

Voting locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Nov. 3 is Election Day and the last day to cast a ballot. And if you feel strongly about that, cool, but sure would be cooler if you took care of things early. Sundays are historically the slowest day at the polls. 

The League of Women Voters of Dallas previously told us that the main reason that mail-in ballots don’t get counted is because they arrive too late. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 by 7 p.m. Voters can drop off their mail-in ballots at the elections office at 1520 Round Table Drive, the only location to hand deliver your ballot in the county. 
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.