One key question about the record-setting surge in El Paso early voting is whether it’s new people coming to the polls or regular voters just casting ballots earlier.

So far, new and infrequent voters are playing a major role in the increased turnout, an El Paso Matters analysis shows.

Almost 13,000 of the 53,000 El Pasoans who voted in the first two days of early voting did not cast ballots in El Paso during the 2016 presidential election.

Some of those people may have lived and voted elsewhere in 2016, but other numbers point to new and less-frequent voters playing a big role in the first two days of early voting in El Paso. More than 53,000 people voted Tuesday and Wednesday, a 46% increase over the same point in the 2016 presidential election.

One in every 11 voters so far has no prior history of voting in El Paso, our analysis shows. One in every seven voters registered after the last presidential vote.

We don’t know who those new voters are choosing, but evidence points to a strong preference for Democrats. We isolated voters from the first two days of early voting who registered after November 2016, and looked at which primary they cast ballots in 2018 and 2020.

El Paso has long been a Democratic stronghold, and that strength has expanded in recent years. Hillary Clinton won 68.5% of the county’s votes in 2016, up from 65.4% for Barack Obama in 2012 and 65.7% for Obama in 2008. 

Voters by age

People over 65 constitute an outsize total among early voters in El Paso, due largely to their ability to vote by mail. People under 65 must vote in person except in limited circumstances.

The percentage of early voters 65+ will decrease as we get deeper into early voting. 

Voters by gender

Women continue to make up 55% of voters, as they did after the first day of early voting. This is due, in part, to larger percentages of women than men being over 65 and eligible to vote by mail. Women make up 52% of registered voters but 56% of voters over age 65.

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.