ELECTION RECAP

Here’s a quick recap of the Rockwall Democrats’ Nov. 15 meeting, as well as a summary of data quoted by Chris Lynch, Rockwall Elections Administrator, at the special meeting of the Rockwall County Commissioner’s Court, on Nov. 17. I have filled in some details afterwards. This is a nuts and bolts post mostly.

All Texas counties were required to certify election results by Nov. 17, which is why the Commissioners’ Court held the special meeting. The certified results were forwarded to the Texas Secretary of State, who must have them all canvassed by December 03. That last date varies by state – California has the last deadline for certifying the election results, Dec. 11. The final stage of the election is the vote of the Electoral College, which will take place on December 14. After that date, the results are considered final – and we will all breathe more easily.

A partial recount is requested by the Secretary of State’s office as a matter of course. In Rockwall County, she requested a recount of the Railroad Commission vote in precincts 1B, 2B and 4. This seems to be a random selection, and was not a request originating from a candidate in that race.

At the Dems’ meeting, Kendall Scudder stressed the fact that, although we felt disappointed that we had not made greater gains, we increased our share of the votes in the presidential race by several points. In 2016, Trump got 70.83% of the votes, but only 67.97% in 2020. In 2016, Hillary Clinton got 24.03% of the votes, whereas Joe Biden got 30.38%. Those gains were the highest of any county in Texas’ 4th US Congressional District.

As for raw numbers, turnout in 2016 was 71.4%, and saw an increase in 2020, to 75.9%. This shows the extraordinary level of interest in this election. The 2016 election was the last one where voters could use the “straight ticket” option. At the time, Republicans claimed 77.13% of the straight-ticket vote, against 21.44% for Democrats. The fact that the Biden/Harris ticket got over 30% of the vote should therefore be very encouraging. On the local level, all our candidates scored above the 21.44% achieved by straight-ticket voting in 2016, another sign of progress. Merceda Winder, running for County Commissioner in district 3, got the highest % among the local candidates, 28.67%.

The county is experiencing fast population growth. We had 56,300 registered voters in 2016, but 71,435 in 2020. There seemed to be a sizeable discrepancy between that last number and the one quoted on rockwallvotes.com by the elections office as the number of registered voters on Oct. 01. The discrepancy is due to a flood of applications collected by the Secretary of State’s Office and sent to Rockwall at the registration deadline of Oct. 05.

Other relevant numbers: because of expected (and realized) heavy turnout, the elections office hired 9 additional workers, including some part-timers.

Before election day, roughly 48,000 ballots had already been cast, including some 4,000 ballots by mail – that is roughly 67% of vote totals, and 8,000 more votes than the total votes cast in the 2016 election. The messaging worked, and greatly relieved pressure on election day itself, when roughly 6,000 votes were cast. Total votes numbered 54,222. Elections administrator Chris Lynch expressed a wish for the county to move to Countywide Voting, i.e. making every voting location available to every county voter on election day as well as during early voting. Dallas County recently moved to countywide voting.

The elections office is gearing up for a runoff election in the city of Fate. Competing for City Council Member Place 2 are Merle “Jake” Jacobson and John P. Brandt; for Place 3 are Christopher Ash and Heather Buegeler. Those races had more than 2 candidates, and none achieved 50% of the votes, which triggered an automatic runoff. Early voting starts December 02, election day is December 19. Fate City Hall will be used as the voting site, and since runoff elections generally attract smaller turnouts, this will be the opportunity to deploy the new IPad-like check-in computers.

Redistricting will occur at some point, but the contours are hazy, as it is possible that a Biden administration might order a prolongation of the census. In Rockwall County, we are expecting to see the number of precincts (currently 17) go up to 20 or 22. We currently have several precincts with over 5,000 registered voters, which is the limit at which a precinct needs to be divided. Those precincts are 1, 1B, 2C, 3D, and 4A. Additionally, precincts 2 and 2A are close to reaching 5,000 registered voters.

Last but not least: gains in the Texas Senate mean that Dan Patrick no longer has a filibuster proof majority. And at the county level, we can pat ourselves on the back too. Our volunteers, organized by Cassi Marietti and Merceda Winder, hung leaflets for our candidates on 9,000 doors. We built on the gains we achieved in the extraordinary 2018 midterms. Not so long ago, Republicans routinely received 90% of all votes. We are not out of the woods yet, but there is a path forward, and we have built a strong, well-organized base over the last decade.

Marie-Anne wrote this post.

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