8 p.m. April 28: This story has been updated with early voting data through April 28, the fifth day of early voting in the May 6 election.

More than 19,000 El Paso city residents cast ballots on the first five days of early voting for the May 6 election – with 56% of them over the age of 65.

More than 20,000 people throughout El Paso County voted as of Wednesday, including 19,143 in the El Paso city limits who are eligible to vote on amendments to the City Charter. That includes a proposal that would require the city government to take numerous steps to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels.

Early voting turnout through Friday was extraordinarily high for an off-year election in El Paso. The first three days of early voting in 2013 and 2017 – the last times mayoral elections were held in the spring of odd-numbered years – drew 12,286 and 9,427 voters, respectively.

As is typical in El Paso early voting, the vast majority of people casting ballots during Monday through Wednesday were over age 65. More than 12 people over age 65 cast ballots for every one person under age 30 doing so, an El Paso Matters analysis of voting records shows.

Bonnie Spurlin, 71, voted on Tuesday, the second day of early voting, at the El Paso County Eastside Annex. She said she was motivated by the issue that has drawn the most campaign spending in this election – Proposition K, the Climate Charter.

“We don’t want Prop K. Are you kidding me,” she said.

Early voting continues through May 2; Election Day is May 6.

El Paso has more registered voters under 30 than over 65. More than one in five registered voters is under age 30 and the median age of registered voters is 45.

Historically, older voters cast ballots earlier in the voting process than younger people, with people under 65 waiting longer to cast ballots during two-week early voting periods.

But younger El Pasoans wind up turning out for elections at rates far below their parents and grandparents. In the November 2022 general election, only one of every eight voters in the El Paso city limits was under age 30. 

The number of senior citizens voting in the 2022 general election was 2½ times more than voters under 30. (Note: some registered voter information provided by the El Paso County Elections Department does not include a birthdate.)

The age mix of the electorate in El Paso’s May 6 election could play a role in the outcome of Proposition K, the Climate Charter amendment. The issue was placed on the ballot after supporters turned in more than 39,000 signatures last year. The petition drive was spearheaded by Sunrise El Paso, which is part of a national environmental movement, and Ground Game Texas, an Austin-based group that advocates for a variety of progressive causes. 

National polling shows that people under 30 are more than twice as likely as those over 65 to support phasing out use of fossil fuels over time to rely completely on renewable energy resources. A key part of the Climate Charter calls on the city of El Paso to rely exclusively on “clean renewable energy” by 2045.

National polling also indicates that Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanics to say climate change is a top priority for them, and is currently affecting their local community.

El Paso Matters editor Ramon Bracamontes contributed to this story.

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