Early voting for the Nov. 8 election started slowly in El Paso County Monday, with half the votes cast compared to the last midterm election in 2018.

The El Paso County Elections Department reported that 8,995 people voted in-person on Monday, and 2,791 mail-in ballots had been returned. Both those numbers were well off the pace of 2018, which drew the highest midterm turnout in El Paso in modern history.

Monday’s weather was cold and rainy, which could have deterred some El Pasoans from voting.

Early voting was off from 2018 levels across Texas on Monday. About 415,000 early votes were recorded in the state’s 30 most populous counties, a 25% decline from 2018 levels, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.

The initial day of early voting in 2018 was the first time El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke was on a statewide ballot, in what turned out to be a narrowly unsuccessful challenge of incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. O’Rourke is on the ballot again this year, challenging incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.

About 52% of first-day voters in El Paso County were men, according to an El Paso Matters analysis of El Paso County Elections Department data. That’s unusual for El Paso, where women typically make up 53% to 55% of voters in the first few days of balloting.

Although Monday’s turnout in El Paso County was well off the record-setting pace of 2018, it was almost two and a half times higher than the first-day turnout in the mid-term election of 2014.

Early voting continues through Nov. 4. Election day is Nov. 8.

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