Voter turnout exceeds expectations across East Texas

Voters cast their ballots at Smith County Elections Office.
Voters cast their ballots at Smith County Elections Office.(Source: KLTV)
Updated: Nov. 5, 2019 at 11:31 PM CST
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TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Texans took to the polls Tuesday to vote for the 2019 Constitutional Amendment Propositions. These off-year elections tend to have lower voter turnout, but today in Tyler, voters found themselves waiting longer than they expected to cast their votes.

According to Karen Nelson, the Smith County Elections Administrator, about 6,000 people turned up to vote at the 2017 Constitutional Amendment Elections. But this year, by mid-afternoon, Smith County had already seen over 7,500 voters.

“The lines were longer than I usually experience when I come out to vote,” said Terri Frazier, Tyler resident and voter, “but it’s always great seeing people come out to vote.”

Nelson said that the same number of voting machines were used this year as have been for past constitutional amendment elections. She said she is not sure what brought the crowds today, but did say that they had received several calls asking if today was the primary election for the presidential race.

Some voters said that they thought one proposition, in particular, brought more people to the polls.

“The big issue on the ballot today is the state tax,” said Frazier. “Most Texans do not want a state income tax, so they are out here to keep the proposition from happening.”

“For me, a big deal is the income tax and making that harder for the legislature,” said voter Elwood Stetson.

Even though the turnout was higher than expected, University of Texas at Tyler Assistant Professor of Political Science Mark Owens said that the turnout for constitutional amendment elections will probably not shatter any records.

“Other elections tend to have somewhere between five and eleven percent turnout—eleven percent if you have a municipal election going on in your city,” he said. “But in this case…this is the lowest turnout that we’ll have throughout the next four years.”

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