Texans Take Advantage of Early Voting

February 1 is the deadline to register to vote on Super Tuesday

Monday is the deadline for Texans to register to vote in the state's primary a month from now. Applications must be hand-delivered to county election offices by the end of the day or have a Monday postmark if they're mailed in.

Waiting in a long line on Election Day might be something of the past for Texas voters.

"More than half of Texans are generally voting before Election Day," Alicia Pierce with the Texas Secretary of State's Office said. "They are voting in that early voting period offered in the weeks leading up to Election Day."

Pierce said early voting has actually become the preferred option among Texas voters.

"It takes some pressure off on Election Day," Pierce said. "The lines tend to be shorter, and so it tends to be a more efficient way to vote."

During the last presidential election, 63 percent of voters headed to the polls early in Texas — nearly twice as many that voted early in the 2000 presidential election.

Pierce said state lawmakers created this early voting period 30 years ago, hoping that it would be more convenient for voters and increase voter turnout. However, according to James Henson, Director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, it's actually done the exact opposite.

"What we've seen is kind of counter-intuitive," Henson said. "Even though we've made voting easier by creating this relatively long early voting period, voter turnout has actually continued to go down in Texas."

According to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, less than two million of the state's 19 million registered voters turned out during the 2014 primary election.

"Early voting has made Election Day somewhat less special," Henson said. "You don't have the excitement and the motivation around one single Election Day that you used to have, and ironically enough that seems to have also contributed to the depression in voter turnout."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas is one of 37 states along with the District of Columbia that lets voters cast their ballots early.

"There is a lot of convenience that comes with being able to vote early," Pierce said, "and it is a reason that it is becoming more and more popular amongst voters across the state."

The deadline to register to vote on Super Tuesday is February 1 and early voting begins on February 16. For more information, click here.

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