Central Texas residents voted in record numbers both on Election Day and in the weeks leading up to it, resulting in 86,516 votes being cast in Bell County this year, nearly double the 44,137 ballots cast in the last midterm election in 2014.
With 196,688 Bell County residents being registered to vote this year, the total turnout amounts to 43.99 percent of registered voters.
“I think a big majority of the voting this year was because of the Senate race between (Republican Ted) Cruz and (Democrat Beto) O’Rourke,” Bell County Elections Administrator Melinda Luedecke said, when asked what she thought contributed to the high voter turnout.
It is possible that the Senate race led to high voter numbers this year. There were a total of 86,190 votes cast in the Senate race this year, compared to 84,756 votes cast in the Senate race in 2012, when Cruz was elected to his first term. However, 2012 was also a presidential election year, which may have helped bolster numbers then.
Despite such a high voter turnout Tuesday, Luedecke said, Bell County did not experience any major problems at voting sites.
“I don’t think there were any exceptionally long lines,” she said. “Things went fairly smoothly.”
Coryell County also experienced a surge in voter turnout Tuesday compared to 2014. A total of 16,103 Coryell County residents cast their ballots Tuesday, which amounts to 42.3 percent of all registered voters. However, just 8,788 — or 25 percent of registered voters — people voted in 2014.
“I think just the national political coverage helped get people out to vote,” Coryell County Elections Administrator Justin Carothers said Wednesday. “I think with it being so much in the public eye led to the high turnout.”
Lampasas County actually saw more than half of all registered voters cast a ballot this year, with 54.44 percent of eligible voters having voted. A total of 7,560 residents cast a ballot either by mail, absentee, early voting or on Election Day.
According to the Texas Tribune, the turnout on Election Day and two weeks of early voting before that eclipsed voter fervor in 2010 — the year when the Tea Party exploded onto the state and national scenes and handed Republicans massive victories. This year’s turnout looked more like the interest Texas voters show in presidential elections. And it was slightly higher than turnout in 2000, when Texans helped send George W. Bush — one of their own — to the White House.
The boost in turnout encompassed nearly the entire state. Only four counties out of 254 saw a lower turnout in 2018 than in the last midterm in 2014.