Some votes remain to be counted over the next few weeks, but Wednesday morning brought a clearer picture of just how high the county’s election turnout was this year.
As of Wednesday morning, 153,843 votes had been cast in Galveston County, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. About 67.3 percent of the county’s 228,482 voters cast ballots in this year’s race.
The figures set new highs in total turnout both by sheer numbers and by rates of registered voters. The previous highs were set in 2016, when 124,546 people voted and the turnout rate was 59.8 percent.
Galveston County hardly was alone in setting new records for turnout. More than 11.1 million Texas votes had been counted as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, and votes still were being counted. In 2016, 8.9 million people voted across the state.
The coming days could see the turnout numbers increase even more. Mail ballots that arrived at the election office on Wednesday and had postmarks of Nov. 3 or earlier were still being counted.
Ballots that were sent from overseas have until Nov. 9 to be counted, and the county’s tax assessor’s office still is reviewing more than 1,200 provisional ballots that could be added to the vote count if the office can determine that they were cast by eligible voters. Provisional ballots are cast in cases where a person’s eligibility is questioned at the polls, like when a person cannot provide a photo ID at a polling place.
The clerk’s office is required to certify a final vote count by Nov. 17.
Although there was a surge in overall voting, it doesn’t appear that the surge was motivated by one party or the other.
Indeed, one of the most notable things about the county’s results were how little the end results of partisan races changed this year, even with tens of thousands of new voters.
For example, in 2016, President Donald Trump took 60 percent of the votes in Galveston County over Hillary Clinton. This year, he took 60.6 percent of the votes over Joe Biden, according to unofficial results through Election Day.
In the 2018 mid-term elections, U.S. Rep. Randy Weber received 60 percent of the votes in Galveston County. In 2020, he took 63 percent of the votes.
Similarly, in 2018, State Rep. Greg Bonnen won reelection with 69.6 percent of votes. This year, Bonnen won with 70 percent of votes, according to complete but unofficial results.
The consistency solidifies the county’s status as Republican stronghold in Texas, even if pockets of Democratic votes exist in some areas of Galveston and Texas City.
Republicans’ hold of power in Texas and gains in some parts of the state was one of the stories of the night. Texas Democrats failed to flip most of the statehouse seats they had targeted in hopes of gaining control of one chamber of the legislature, and Trump performed far better in counties along the Texas-Mexico border than he did in 2016.
State Rep. Dade Phalen, a Republican from Beaumont, on Wednesday announced he would run to be the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Phalen announced he already had the support of more than 80 members of the House, including Galveston-area state Reps. Greg Bonnen and Mayes Middleton. A candidate for speaker needs a majority of support from the 150-member House chamber to become speaker. ... There are 68 days until the start of the 2021 Texas Legislative session. ... There are 40 days until the Dec. 15 local runoff elections.