DALLAS -- Early voting in Texas continues at a record pace with multiple theories on what’s driving the heavy voter turnout, including a theory offered by political strategist Matt Mackowiak:
Texas voters — and voters across the country, for that matter — aren’t always voting ‘for’ a candidate. Heavy voter turnout might be due to the fact so many are actually voting ‘against’ the candidate they can’t possibly see in the White House.
"We have the two least-popular candidates running for president in American history,” said Mackowiak, an Austin-based GOP strategist.
At Irving City Hall, one of the busiest early voting locations in Dallas County, Arlington voter Bobby Blackshire proved the theory correct — at least, in his case.
"I don't think Trump needs to be in office. Sorry Trump, you're out of there,” Blackshire said with a laugh.
Republican voter David McConley agreed the intensity of the campaigns is part of what drove him to vote early.
"That's a big part of it, too. It is very intense, as far as what people are saying,” McConley said.
In Dallas County, 35 percent more people have voted in the first seven days of early voting than in the last presidential election’s first week of early voting. In Tarrant County, 32 percent more. And in traditionally more Republican Collin County, 58 percent more people have already gone to the polls than in the first week of voting in 2012, and 72 percent more than in 2008.
"So voting against someone can be a powerful motivation, and I think that's part of what's happening here,” Mackowiak said.
It’s an intensity that elections officials reacted to. Dallas County increased its number of early voting locations by nearly two-thirds this year, from 25 to 41.
"We're just seeing the numbers increase. They are just exceeding what our expectations even were,” said Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole.
"With the choices we have, it motivates people more to vote earlier, because I know on election days it’s going to be a lot of people,” said first-time voter Amaya Lampkin.
And while the population growth of North Texas’ three biggest counties has certainly helped with the higher turnout, it appears clear passion is pushing people to the polls — even when it’s just a passion for it to all be over.
Mackowiak other early voter turnout theory: "I think part of this too is that it's been such an ugly and nasty campaign, people want to vote and be done with it."
A lot of people on both sides can agree on that.
"I just hope they can basically work together, whoever comes out on top,” said Lampkin’s grandmother, Sharon Davis of Irving, after casting her early vote.
Early voting ends Friday, Nov. 4. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
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