Inside Track: Fort Bend appears to be a toss up

SESHADRI KUMAR
Fort Bend County has broken the total turnout of both the 2016 and 2018 general elections in the early voting period alone, with two more days of extended early voting remaining.

About 292,000 people, including 266,263 in person, have voted until Oct. 28, accounting for 61.2 percent of the total 477,000 registered voters in Fort Bend County.

In the 2016 presidential election,the total turnout was 266,857 out of 409,000 voters, marking 65.28 percent turnout.

In 2018, the turnout was 257,743 out of 434,388 total voters, marking 59.34 percent.

At the end of early voting Friday this time, nearly 65 percent of the total registered voters would have already cast their votes, leaving just one-third of the total registered voters or about 160,000 to vote on election day.

What does this big turnout mean and where are these additional voters coming from?

According to analysts, most of the Republican primary voters had already voted and the overflow voters are largely first time voters.

In 2018, Democrats swept the local countywide races, with about 6 percent margin of votes and a similar turnout would have assured another Democratic sweep, but a couple of factors may affect that presumption.

No one knows how the first timers will vote.

Further, the anti-Trump sentiment witnessed in Fort Bend in 2016 seems to have mellowed, however, small that may be.

On top of it, the straight party voting that existed in 2018 is no longer available.

Even in 2016, when Fort Bend voted against Trump, in local races down the ballot, Republicans won.

Instead of becoming Blue, as of now, Fort Bend seems to be a toss up as far as county races are concerned.

Another notable feature of early voting in Fort Bend is that the much-touted mega voting location in Sugar Land’s Smart Financial Center has not lived up to expectations with Cinco Ranch Library emerging the busiest voting location where the highest number of 22,372 have voted so far, followed by Tompkins High School, also in the Katy-Cinco Ranch area with 19,309 votes and Smart Financial finishing third, with 18,143.

Fort Bend County’s Precinct 3, largely comprising Katy area and Pecan Grove, has county’s 35 percent of the population and according to analysts, about 32 percent of them voted early.

On the other hand, Precinct 4 which comprises a large chunk of Sugar Land, has 24 percent of the population and about 27 percent of them have voted.

Precinct 3 is considered a majority Republican area and Precinct 4, which used to be a Republican majority precinct, turned blue in 2018. Telfair and New Territory, with overwhelming minority voters, are in Precinct 4.