Texas sees huge turnout on first day of early voting with over 1M ballots cast

Texas saw a huge turnout on the first day of early voting Tuesday, with some of the state’s biggest counties reporting a record number of ballots cast. 

The Lone Star State has already topped 1.1 million votes with more weeks of voting still to come — a record, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Early voting in Texas started on Tuesday, Oct. 13 and runs through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.  

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Harris County, a heavily Democratic county that is the state’s most populous, by far had the biggest turnout, with close to 170,000 ballots cast either in-person or via mail-in voting as of Wednesday morning. By comparison, the county had cast 130,000 ballots on the first day of early voting in 2016.

Who early voting benefits in the state remains unclear, but the Texas Democratic Party cheered the news as evidence the state could be in play this fall. 

“Across our state, Texas Democrats are fired up, voting, and ready to win,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the party’s chair. “The first day of early voting was great but we still know that there is a lot of work to do and plenty of votes to be cast.”

Less than a month before Election Day, an unprecedented number of Americans have already cast their ballots, indicating a possible record turnout for the race between incumbent President Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden.

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More than 16 million Americans have voted in the election so far, according to data released Friday by the United States Elections Project, which compiles early-voting data. By way of comparison, as of Oct. 16, 2016, some 1.4 million Americans had already cast their ballot. 

More than 50 million people have requested mail-in ballots this year, the data shows. In 2016, some 57.2 million Americans voted early in person, by mail or via absentee ballot. State election officials in several key swing states have warned it could take days to count all of the votes. All but about a half-dozen states allow some form of early in-person voting.

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Trump has repeatedly claimed that mail-in voting would allow for widespread fraud, but experts have said such fraud is rare.

According to an aggregate of polls from RealClearPolitics, Trump is leading Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by 4.4 percentage points in Texas.

Texas has not voted to elect a Democratic president since 1976, when Jimmy Carter beat incumbent President Gerald Ford by more than 3 percentage points in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report categorizes Texas as “lean Republican” in terms of the presidential election.

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