Texans are turning out to vote in record numbers in this year’s presidential election, despite Democrats spreading fear the Chinese coronavirus would depress turnout and claiming it’s hard to vote in Texas.

Over 9.7 million out of Texas’ 16.9 million registered voters have cast early ballots in the November 3 election, according the Texas Secretary of State’s website—a turnout of over 57 percent and more than the total number of votes cast in the last presidential election.

The overwhelming majority, 8.7 million, voted in person, while over 973,000 mail-in ballots had been returned as of October 30, the last day of in-person early voting.

In 2016, over 8.9 million Texans voted in the presidential election—a turnout of 59.4 percent.

Texas is one of two states that has already exceeded its total 2016 turnout ahead of Election Day. Nationwide, over 95 million voters had cast ballots as of Sunday—35 million in person and 60 million by mail, with another 31 million mail ballots still outstanding, according to data reported by the U.S. Elections Project.

Mail ballot requests increased this year, due in part to a concerted effort by Democrats to expand vote-by-mail citing concerns about COVID-19. But in-person voting numbers are higher too, with millions of Texas voters confident they could safely vote at the polls.

Felicia Cravens, a longtime election judge in Harris County, said over 12,000 people early-voted in person at her polling location.

“I can’t tell you how many mail ballots we’ve canceled for folks in two weeks of early voting. Boxes of them,” Cravens tweeted on October 26. “Many tell us they were worried about COVID when they applied for mail ballots, but feel less at risk voting in person now.”

“And it’s amazing how many people of advanced age are coming through our polling location. We keep hearing them talk about how important the experience is to them, how motivated they are to vote in person. It’s a serious occasion,” she added.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive proclamation adding six extra in-person early voting days, on top of the 12 days allowed for in the state’s election code, as a way to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Texas’ 12 most-populous counties, which account for about 61 percent of the state’s registered voters, cast over 6 million or about 60 percent of the early votes.

Voting data analyst Derek Ryan breaks down who has voted, based on past voting history.

The state’s two largest counties, Harris and Dallas, both exceeded 57 percent early voting turnout. Many others topped 60 percent, with Republican stronghold Collin County leading the list at 69 percent turnout.

Still, over 7 million registered Texas voters have yet to cast a ballot.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. Polls are open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Voters can get election information, including sample ballots and polling place locations, from their county elections office or on the Texas Secretary of State’s website votetexas.gov.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.