Voter turnout lags 2018 midterms



Early voting for the 2022 midterm elections take place inside the G building of Eastfield.

CARMEN GUZMAN, Editor in Chief

Fewer Dallas County residents voted in the 2022 early voting session for midterms compared with 2018.

This year 391,328 registered voters participated in early voting, according to the Dallas County Elections Department. During early voting in the 2018 midterm elections, state officials counted 535,257 votes because of gains in urban counties.

“I worked the 2018 election. That was a huge election with big voter turnout,” Lisa Therion, an early voting election judge stationed at the Eastfield polling location, said. “For a midterm election, I think we’re doing pretty well.”

Residents cast 2,505 votes at Eastfield during early voting.

“Numbers aren’t exactly high here at Eastfield, but overall, I hear [positive things about] what’s happening in other voting sites in the area,” Therion said.

An urgency to vote characterized the campaigns for Democratic candidates, especially governor candidate Beto O’Rourke.

However, the numbers disappointed left-leaning voters participating in midterms.

“I’m surprised that it’s low. I’m surprised it wouldn’t be a little higher with everything that’s been happening before this election,” Ana Green, 26, said after casting her ballot Tuesday. “For example, the school shooting in Uvalde.”

O’Rourke’s uphill battle for governor was the centerpiece of the state midterm elections, overshadowing races for attorney general and lieutenant governor.

“The governor’s race has sparked a lot of interest in voting,” Therion said. “I think that debate has been rather heated, and so that’s what’s driving voter turnout.”

Democratic candidates such as O’Rourke hosted voting drives at several colleges throughout Texas, courting young voters to register for midterms.

Republicans mirrored young voter registration drives through events such as the Texas Youth Summit in October.

“We’ve had a tremendous number of a first-time voters here, and I think that’s attributed to the fact that they’re maybe college students or even high school students,” Therion said.

Although early voting numbers spell uncertainty, voters held out for gains on election day.

“I definitely have hopes for the younger generation and Gen Z,” history instructor Hayley Grammer said. “I hope that they turn out and try to help the rest of us save America.”

While left-leaning voters are passionate for turning the tide against conservative successes, such as the Dobbs v. Jackson decision earlier this year, right-wing voters anticipate a red wave.

“We shouldn’t make it an emotional election,” Eastfield graduate Joseph Hermesmeyer said. “I think a lot of the appeals for the left and the Democratic party are mostly emotional appeals.”

Issues such as gun control and abortion gained attention on both sides, but right-wing voters are more concerned with the economy.

“[Gun control] should not be the only consideration when people are actually dying because they can’t feed themselves,” Hermesmeyer said.

Inflation has loomed over America as the Biden administration struggles to restore confidence in the economy.

Gas prices have become a primary talking point against the Democrats.

“A lot of things at stake right now are very real, like energy prices, gas prices, food prices,” Hermesmeyer said. “I mean, that’s all stuff they have to pay more and more attention to.”

Voters such as Hermesmeyer turned to Abbott for his experience and political knowledge. Texas Republicans have discredited O’Rourke for only serving as a state representative from 2013 to 2015.

“A whole list of things [has to be considered]. Abbott’s experience is the biggest thing going for him,” Hermesmeyer said. “Beto doesn’t have the experience to run a state.”

While many were disappointed by the lower-than-expected turnout, voters pushed for participation up to the last hour to vote.

“Every citizen should be participating in democracy,” Grammer said. “If every citizen doesn’t, people who have nefarious plans can use people’s apathy against their own good.”