Wichita County early voting totals drop

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 6:34 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Nearly 21,000 Wichita County voters weighed in during early voting, accounting for only 26.6% of all registered voters.

There’s been a decline in early voters compared to the presidential election in 2020 and the last midterm election in 2018.

Wichita County election officials were shocked to see only about 27% of voters hit the polls in the two weeks of early voting. There is speculation on why the turnout was lower than expected, but they hope to see an increase Tuesday on Election Day.

“I thought with being a heated governor race that it would be a big turnout for early voting,” Wichita County election manager Penny Baxley said. “I am hoping that everyone will get out and vote tomorrow and have that big turnout.”

Just under 27% of registered voters in Wichita County took to the polls for early voting, much less than the nearly 42% during the presidential election in 2020 and the nearly 30% during the midterm election in 2018.

“I think probably the biggest reason is the dialogue that we are seeing driven by the national Republican party that we can’t trust the early voting and the absentee voting,” Dr. Steve Garrison, political science professor at MSU Texas, said. “These issues like in Arizona with the drop-off boxes and the people armed walking around the boxes, it has become this thing that for whatever reason Republicans have now decided that they don’t want people to vote early. They want them to do it on Election Day.”

Garrison said this isn’t the only possible reason for the decline in early voters. It can be attributed to less interest in a smaller election or because more candidates are running unopposed. However, officials believe the early voting option is essential.

“I think it gives them the two weeks prior to vote,” Baxley said. “It helps if they are not going to be here at that time. If they are ill, at least they have their early voting done and taken care of. I think early voting is great.”

There has also been a decline in registered voters in Wichita County, but Garrison believes the county could be in a transitional phase.

“Trends in 2018 was new and young voters,” Garrison said. “That is one thing to watch, maybe we are seeing a decline in registered voters, but is that going to be offset by younger people coming to the polls. At least nationally we have seen a lot of interest in young people registering.”

We could start to see voting trends increase across the board on both the state and national level.

“It feels that way as a political science professor, students seem to care more about politics then they did 10 years ago, so hopefully that translates into people being involved in politics and voting and so on,” Garrison said.

To see Election Day voting locations across Texoma, click here.