Don’t be surprised by early voting
For all of their accolades, early voters aren’t exactly trendsetters. It just isn’t in their DNA.
In a year that 40 percent of the city’s votes were delivered through the mailbox, last week’s tally for Houston’s early birds totaled 115,958: a 10 percent increase from the 2010 primary. At a cursory glance, it would appear that we’re evolving from a city in which cul-de-sac cardboard cutouts, elastic stickers on car bumpers and ratty T-shirts with fading letters are the predominant means of getting the vote out, but if you really look, you’ll notice we’re not. In actuality, supposed innovations in forward thinking and agenda setting are just stifled steps in the same direction. The numbers lie.
If anything, the various methods of voting are what really tell the story. For the duration of May, the earliest voting centers were the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray, the Trini Mendenhall SOSA Community Center in Spring Branch, Kingwood Branch Library and the Champion Forest Baptist Church. Their contributions varied from a high of 298, to a low of 261. With only these locations on hand, it’s tough to unbiasedly and correctly say what the voters were thinking; however, replacing the attributes of location with the dictum of previous trends makes the job easier.
Harris County’s Clerk Office deems that 30,558 of this season’s 44,855 poll goers cast their ballots in the red. For readers short on the math, that’s 68 percent of the vote. For Democrats short on gas, that means in the first five days of voting alone, Republicans cast twice as many votes as their counterparts. For a city short on tolerance — growing steadily, but short nonetheless — that means further reinforcements along the same lines of thought.
Historically, in lower profile elections, the turnout ratio is stagnant at best. Last year’s welterweight bout — a slugging that extended well into the voting season — between Hillary Clinton and the incumbent saw full parking lots at the polls with record numbers of Houstonians willing to set the record straight. It was truly a spectacle. This year simply isn’t as exciting.
That isn’t to say an exhilarating primary is all that’s necessary for an admirable turnout, but it’s certainly an attention getter. Aging voters have proven they can do without; they turn up despite fervor or weather and are consistently one of the largest voting groups in the country. They’re also the least likely to change their minds about anything, and in the absence of a televised outing, pregnancy or colloquial screw up, they’ll have the final say.
It could change slightly or even monumentally but probably not.
Bryan Washington is a sociology sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]