Elections Office: Dist. 124 election turn-out lowest in a year

Big gap in cost per vote for run-off candidates

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County elections administrator Jacque Callanen said the voter turn-out Tuesday in the race for Dist. 124 state representative, including the early vote and mail-in ballots, was just over 2,000.

She said that's barely 2 percent of the district's 88,000-plus registered voters.

Callanen said it was the lowest turn-out since the primary last March, the first of 13 elections in 12 months.

"We had one polling place that had nine voters all day," she said. "The average was 30."

Yet Callanen said salaried election judges sat at 30 polling sites waiting for voters.

She said the staging the special election cost the Bexar County Elections Department about $150,000, so the cost per vote was about $75.

That's not counting figures from the Texas Ethics Commission on what candidates Delicia Herrera and Ina Minjarez now in a run-off, had reported in contributions, expenditures and loans.

The Herrera campaign reported $10,399.42, garnered 555 votes, at $18.74 per vote.

Minjarez reported $55,111.32, received 828 votes, at $66.56 per vote.

Callanen called the turn-out disheartening, and yet not surprising, given the level of voter-fatigue.

She said election judges hear it often at the main early voting site at the Cadena-Reeves Justice Center, "What are voting on now? Why are you here?"

Even Dr. David Crockett, chair of the political science department at Trinity University, said he'd forgotten about the latest special election, but thankfully it's not his district.

"I wouldn't want to be critical of the population if you see a turn-out really collapse, when they come in rapid succession," Crockett said.

He said it's been suggested the number of elections could be reduced by consolidating them during the November general election for president or the Congressional mid-term elections, or lowering the percentage needed for a run-off to 40 percent.

Crockett said many believe that if there are too many elections, "people are going to start tuning them out."

Callanen said Governor Abbott will call for the District 124 run-off later this month, hopefully ahead of the April 27 start of early voting for the upcoming Municipal Election on May 9.