Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
This week, San Antonio celebrates Fiesta with parades, live music, cascarones and more. Schools around the city will shut down on Friday. Yet as seven days of early voting for the May 4 municipal elections start Monday, the extra time outside of school and work is not expected to draw more people to the polls, said Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen.
“It’s springtime, it’s Fiesta time, it’s Easter,” Callanen said. “I know some schools are still closed Easter Monday so I don’t know if people will still be out of town. There are a lot of different factors that enter into these May elections.”
Callanen said spring elections typically draw between 10.5 and 13 percent of registered voters to the polls. In May 2017, the last time San Antonians voted on City Council and mayoral candidates, 1.02 million people were registered to vote but only 116,222 cast a ballot in all Bexar County races – a turnout of 11.32 percent. And only 9 percent turned out for the June 2017 runoff election.
Though Callanen said she cannot predict the future, she’s certain that the turnout will stay within the typical range.
“I’ve thought that in the past, when we had some really vibrant races on the ballot, [that voter turnout would increase],” she said. “Historically, it stays pretty steady at that same level. We would love to have it go up.”
Voters will see City Council and mayoral candidates on their ballots this election. School district races, other Bexar County municipality races, and one emergency services district race are also included in the May election. Voters can download a sample ballot specific to them on the Bexar County Elections website here. Check your registration status here.
During early voting, voters can stop by any poll to cast a ballot. On election day, voters must go to their precincts. There are 40 sites that will be open during early voting. Monday through Thursday polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Polls are closed Friday in honor of Battle of Flowers. Early voting sites open up again on Saturday and close Sunday. They will open Monday, April 29, and Tuesday, April 30. Early voting sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during last three days of early voting.
Applications to vote by mail must be received by the Bexar County Elections Department office by Tuesday, Callanen said.
“They have to wait for us to send a ballot, and they have to have that mailed in to us by election day,” she said.
Callanen reminded voters to bring one of seven acceptable forms of identification, such as a Texas driver’s license, and to thank election workers.
Voters can also expect to see new voting machines displayed at early voting sites. Election officials will put out the new machines starting Wednesday and will answer any questions that voters may have about them.
“It’s not going to be turned on,” Callanen said. “It will have the display screen on it, and we have the pieces and parts for it. So election officials will be able to explain to [voters].”
The Elections Department is still negotiating a new contract with the voting machine company. The department will give county commissioners a price option in May, Callanen said.
Check out the Rivard Report’s election guide here.