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Texas Vote Counting Guide

Last Updated: November 3rd, 2020

Key Takeaway: The massive early vote numbers mean we will know a lot about Texas as early as 8:00 PM local. More people voted early in Texas than in the entire 2016 election. BUT an extremely close race could take until Nov. 5 to decide.

Last Polls Close: 8PM (9PM Eastern)

Last Absentee: Nov. 4

Votes Counted: Election Day

Vote Certified: Dec. 3

The Big Number: 9,719,101 Early Votes Cast
That's more than in the entire 2016 Election (Texas Data)

Early voting ended on October 30 in Texas and 'early voting boards' have met to verify absentee ballots, prepare them for scanning and ensure everything is in order with with the in-person counts. While the boards cannot officially 'count' ballots the in-person early votes have already been cast in machines and just await final tabulation. This is usually an electronic process in places like Harris County, the largesty county in the state, which also uses direct recording touchscreens (DREs) for voting.

Early vote results will be first in Texas and could come in many counties as soon as 15 minutes after polls close.

Of the over nearly 10 million early votes cast, less than 1 million are absentee ballots which have to be counted on Election Day. Absentee ballots received on Election Day are counted once polls close. But overall the results of Texas early votes should be available early on Election Night with in-person votes on the day following soon after.

What to watch for

  • Domestic absentee ballots can arrive as late as 5PM on Nov. 4.
  • The Texas Paradox: If early votes are close or follow 2016 voting patterns we could end up having a lot of data that is indecisive. Texas will have more returns reported sooner than other states, but a close race could take until Nov. 5 to know the results.
  • Texas has 254 counties that each administer their elections differently.
  • Harris County, home to Houston, does not have a paper trail of ballots since they only use DREs. This could cause massive issues if there are irregularities.
  • Tarrant County (third biggest) officials had to remake over 20,000 absentee ballots that could not be scanned due to a barcode printing error.
  • On Monday (Nov. 2) the county authorized funds to bring on more workers to help with the count, but fear delays due to the error.


Here’s how votes are counted in Texas

Each of Texas’ 254 counties is responsible for counting its ballots, but they have specific guidelines they must follow.

Hanna Kozlowska, Votebeat  —The Texas Tribune

Early voting has begun in Texas. Here’s when and how your vote will be counted. - Austin Monitor

First things first: Most votes don’t get counted until Election Day. To be even more clear, those votes aren’t counted until the polls close that evening. That includes all types of ballots cast during the election – mail-in ballots, in-person…

Ashley Lopez  —Austin Monitor

Tarrant County Needs More People to Count ‘Unreadable’ Ballots

The Tarrant County Election Board authorized emergency approval on Monday to bring on more election officials to help count what is expected to be a…

Ben Russell,Katy Blakey  —NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Count Every Vote © 2020