Dallas Early Voting Numbers Show Very Few People Give a Damn

Barring a miracle, turnout for the 2015 Dallas city election is going to be absolutely miserable. Six or 7 percent. Based on past evidence, that's it. Despite the vitriol. Despite the six open seats on the council created by term limits. Despite Scott Griggs, one of the most popular people in Dallas public life, getting investigated for a felony under dubious circumstances. Despite the damn toll road.

Early voting finished Tuesday. As of Wednesday morning's count, 19,050 Dallas residents have cast ballots, either early or through the mail. That's a couple thousand less than 2013, and that election didn't have a top-line race. The last two Dallas elections that included a mayoral contest -- 2007 and 2011 -- both saw about 13 percent turnout. Six or 7 percent turnout is about what's to be expected in a non-mayoral year.

So what gives? According to Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole, it's likely that potential voters are less than enthusiastic about going to the polls because they don't recognize the names running for all those open seats.

"There's a lot of candidates on the ballot, and there's not a lot of name recognition," Pippins-Poole says. "When you want to get somebody out to vote, to pique their interest, there has to be something there emotionally for them."

There are 44 candidates running in contested races for council or mayor.

"You would think that [so many seats being up for grabs] would be a motivator but, in looking at these numbers, it hasn't been," Pippins-Poole says.

Lest you hope for that election day turnout miracle, The Weather Channel is predicting a 100 percent chance of rain on Saturday including heavy thunderstorms. As we saw in the November's Texas gubernatorial election, rain makes people stay away from the polls in droves.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young