BEXAR COUNTY, Tex. (KTSA News) — Nearly half of Bexar County’s registered voters have already voted in the November 3 general election as of Wednesday.
“553,000 people have already voted,” Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen told KTSA’s Jack Riccardi Wednesday afternoon. “We’re at 46.5 percent [voter turnout] right now.”
Callanen said the two final days of early voting and Election Day are usually the busiest days for turnout, which means that number could climb even higher.
“I’m hoping we are well north of 700,000 — 750,000 total,” the county elections chief said.
Callanen said she believes the big early voters are likely new voters, primarily based on information voters have sought from her office this election cycle.
Typically, more experienced voters know how the process works and where they plan to vote without needing to contact the Bexar County Elections Department.
The trend of voters turning out now toward the end of early voting appear to be the experienced voters, Callanen said, because the more popular voting locations are seeing their traditional higher numbers of voters when compared to other polling sites across the county.
Riccardi asked Callanen about a recent news report saying some elections officials have reported hacking or phishing attempts into their operations.
“We have not reported it,” Callanen said.
She explained that security is so tight in the county that any hacking attempt into its operations gets caught by a relatively new firewall — and thus reported to her as opposed to her finding out a problem and reporting it in the opposite direction.
Some counties — namely Harris and Travis — have run into legal fights with the state over an order issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott the mandates mail-in ballots dropped off in person can only be delivered to one site per county.
Bexar County did not have that problem.
Callanen explained why.
“The elections here in Bexar County are run by an elections administrator, an appointed official, and I have one office,” the county elections administrator explained. “In Harris County and Travis County, their elections are handled by their county clerk [an elected position]. And both of those large cities, the county clerk has annexes or substations, whichever you would like to call them.”
For size reference, Bexar County has 2 million people, Travis County has 1.27 million people, and Harris County has 4.71 million people.
“So as far as dropping off or hand-delivering the mail ballots, it could only go to the early voting clerk’s office,” Callanen continued. “Well, we had one here, so it was never going to be able to be expanded because the law said it had to be an early voting clerk’s fully-functioning office. That’s why that applied to a Harris County or a Travis County because they are substations.”
Some critics, particularly in statewide media, have said that Bexar County has been resistant to making changes or improvements to its election process.
Callanen flatly refuted that to KTSA.
“We’ve done, I think, marvelous and exciting changes here in the last year,” the elections administrator said. “For instance, we switched to a paper-based and a brand new voting system in the last year. We switched to the vote center model for Election Day, which has been a big boon for us.”
The vote center model makes it possible for any registered Bexar County voter to cast their ballot at any polling site in the county — not to one they are assigned to near their residence.