Voters line up at Marty Robbins Recreation Center during the second week of early voting. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Despite the worst COVID-19 outbreak among major U.S. cities, El Paso is poised to shatter turnout records as we head into the last week of early voting.

Almost 165,000 El Pasoans cast absentee and early ballots through Saturday, the 12th day of early voting. The previous record early voting turnout was 151,000 in 2016, which had 12 days of early voting. Because of the pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott extended the early voting period by an additional six days.

Early voting continues through Friday, with Election Day the following Tuesday, Nov. 3. El Paso is on pace to surpass its entire 2016 turnout of 218,000 by the end of early voting. 

El Paso Matters’ turnout model projects that 265,000 to 275,000 El Pasoans will vote by the time polls close on Nov. 3. That would be an increase of more than 20% over the 2016 record turnout. The model takes into account the number of regular voters who still haven’t cast ballots and the rate of irregular and new voters who are turning out so far.

Early voting polls are open from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. They will have extended hours Monday through Friday, staying open until 10 p.m. Polling places open between 7 and 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, depending on location.

With El Paso’s dire COVID-19 situation, the most attractive option for in-person early voters may be the seven express curbside locations across the county. These sites allow people to cast ballots without leaving their cars, minimizing contact with others.

To speed up the voting process, election officials are urging voters to print out a customized sample ballot, mark their choices and take the document with them to vote. 

You can use the El Paso Matters voters guide to learn more about local candidates as you prepare your sample ballot. The guide is available in English and Spanish.

Cover photo by Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters

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