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

The number of first-day early voters in El Paso on Monday was down significantly from previous midterm primary elections, El Paso County Elections Department data shows.

Among the key areas where there was a significant drop in votes were mail-in ballots by Republican voters. During the 2018 midterm primary, 230 El Paso County Republicans sent in mail ballots on the first day of early voting. By Monday, zero Republican mail ballots were received by El Paso County elections officials.

Democrats sent in 165 mail-in ballots by Monday’s first day of early voting, down from 1,208 at the same point in 2018.

Fewer than 2,200 early votes were cast on Monday, either in person or by mail, well below the turnout for the first day of early voting in previous midterm primaries. This year’s first day of early voting drew less than half the number of early voters on the first day of 2018 balloting.

El Paso County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise said the Texas Democratic Party sent ballot-by-mail requests to their list of registered voters, but the state Republican Party did not. 

Former President Trump and other leading Republicans have falsely said that mail voting is subject to widespread fraud.

In September, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law sweeping changes to the state’s elections law. A key change was that voters applying for mail-in ballots must now provide the same driver’s license number, state ID number or Social Security information that they initially used to register to vote. If these don’t match the information on file, election officials must reject their applications.

Wise said 1,300 El Paso mail ballots had been rejected as of Monday because voters didn’t comply with one or more of the new requirements. Voters are notified of the rejection and are given the opportunity to fix problems.

In 2022, 4,725 El Pasoans requested mail-in Democratic ballots by the start of early voting, 130 more than in 2018. Republicans requested about 500 fewer mail-in ballots for 2022 than the first day of early voting in the 2018 primary.

Wise said she hopes turnout will increase as early voting continues through Feb. 25.

“We saw a consistent stream of voters at the locations throughout the day (Monday) and hope the numbers increase throughout the early voting period,” Wise said.

Cover photo: Marty Robbins Recreation Center in East El Paso is one of the county’s early voting sites for the March 1 primaries. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

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Elida S. Perez is a senior reporter for El Paso Matters. Her experience includes work as city government watchdog reporter for the El Paso Times, investigative reporter for El Paso Newspaper Tree and communities...