Historically known for low voter turnout, Texas now leads the nation in early votes

Posted at 5:53 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 18:53:22-04

KILLEEN, TX — Historically, Texans have been low on the voter turnout list. After a week of early voting, the Lone Star State seems to have had a change of heart as the state leads the nation in voter turnout.

Lawrence Richardson says he’s voted in every election since becoming eligible. When he showed up to the polls on Tuesday, the lines were so long that he decided to wait, but he was just fine doing that.

Texans have opened their eyes to how this year may be different than others.

“I think people are starting to understand that there’s a lot at stake,” Richardson said. “So, people that normally wouldn’t take the time to come out and vote, or didn’t think their vote mattered, are having a change of heart.”

Matthew Dutton, the Interim Elections Administrator for Bell County, says he’s seeing a 50% higher turnout week compared to the first two weeks of early voting in 2016.

“I think most Texans are just like, "We’d like to know more about this. How does this work? So if we want to either change it or stay the same, or whatever, how do we ensure that happens?"” Dutton said.

Currently, Texans have stepped up to fulfill their role in American democracy more than any other state.

Voters like Don Roberton believe it’s because for once, Texas is in play.

“Texas is a battleground state because we have a lot of people here,” Roberton said. “We get a lot of electoral votes. It is important.”

Dutton thinks the same.

“People are paying more attention to that electoral college map, saying "Wait, is this why candidates put so much effort into certain states while maybe not others? And why? What kind of effect does that have?"” Dutton said.

At the end of the day, Texas voters believe no matter who you vote for, it's going to change our everyday lives.

“People are actually just starting to realize that our whole, for a better way to put it, our whole way of life is going to change one way or the other,” Richardson said. “Depending on if we’re going to be red or blue.”

In the 2016 general election, Texas saw roughly nine million votes. This election, over four and a half million Texans have already cast their vote. About 37,000 of those are just in Bell County.