Almost half of registered voters in Victoria County voted in the 2018 elections, a dramatic increase in turnout for the county compared to previous midterms.

A little more than 49 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the county, according to the unofficial results from the Victoria County elections office. The results will be canvassed and certified by the Texas Secretary of State's office in the coming weeks.

The voter turnout rate is good news for Victoria County, which, like other Texas counties, has had historically low turnout compared to other states. In the past three midterm elections — in 2014, 2010 and 2006 — an average of 35 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls in Victoria. Turnout in 2018 increased by more than 14 percentage points compared to that average.

Victoria's improved voter turnout rate is due in part to a strong early voting showing: more than 32 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls before Election Day, according to the county's initial data.

In 2016, about 31,000 Victoria County residents cast a ballot in the elections, meaning about 57 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls.

Political activists throughout the state have been hopeful that energy around the 2018 elections would translate into higher voter turnout. Texas has historically had low voter turnout rates, ranking last or near last when compared to other states. A study from the University of Texas-Austin found that the Lone Star State ranked 47th in voter turnout and 44th in voter registration during the 2016 election. A different analysis, from the Washington Post, concluded that Texas ranked dead-last for voter turnout during the three most recent midterm elections, in 2014, 2010 and 2006.

Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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