Collin County seeing notable decline in mail-in ballot requests ahead of midterm elections

The deadline to register to vote in Texas is soon. 

And while some North Texas counties have not seen a huge spike in new voters, Collin County is seeing a noticeable decline in mail-in ballot requests. 

The closely watched Texas governor’s race will drive turnout in November as campaigns head into the final stretch. 

Oct. 11 is the deadline to register to vote. 

With one month away, it’s hard to tell if hot-button issues like abortion and border security are motivating factors.  

Texas mail-in ballots require voters to sign the outer envelope. (Charlie Pearce for The Texas Tribune)

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But in booming Collin County, the population growth itself is creating more potential voters. 

Bruce Sherbet is the Collin County election administrator. 

"Our growth is significant in this county," he said. "And so to give you an example, we have 100,000 more registered voters this election than we did four years ago in the last midterm election."

Sherbet says voters in Collin County vote early and vote often. In 2020, the county had nearly 80% turnout. 

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But Sherbet sees a changing trend with mail-in voting still several weeks before the Oct. 27 deadline to request a mail-in ballot. 

"We're down on requests for mail ballots going into the midterm elections," he said. "Right now, we have about 12,000 requests queued up ready to mail ballots once we start mailing out. If you look at it four years ago, we mailed out 22,000 mail ballots."

Mail-in ballots were also popular in many counties during the pandemic.  

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Then last spring, there was confusion over new ID requirements, with thousands of mail-in ballots flagged as improperly filled out.

Still, Sherbet thinks there is not one single reason for the decline. 

"People just deciding they want to vote in person," he said. "There could be concerns about is the mail going to get back and forth timely? That's a legitimate concern always. And it could be just people don't feel as comfortable with the mail ballot process."

While vote by mail numbers are down, Sherbet says their new voter totals have not changed. 

"It's pretty consistent and meaning that we're not seeing any large spikes in registration. We're seeing some small upticks like you would expect," he said.

Both Dallas County and Tarrant County officials say they aren’t seeing any big spikes in voter registration.

Currently, Dallas County has seen about 66,000 new voters this year.