EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Monday, Oct. 24 marked the start of early voting as hundreds of voters headed out to polling sites around El Paso. With many key races on this midterm ballot, voter turnout is important for candidates, experts say.

Lisa Wise, El Paso County elections administrator, says that everyone is eligible to vote as long as they are registered. Additionally, if you are requesting a mail-in ballot, the last day to request one is Oct. 28.

However, not everyone is eligible for mail-in ballots due to the requirements involved.

“You have to qualify to vote by mail. Generally 65 and up is our largest group but if you’re disabled, going to be out of the country, if you’re imprisoned but not convicted of a felony you can qualify to vote by mail, military and overseas as well.”

One of the races to watch this midterm is the gubernatorial contest between Republican incumbent Greg Abbott and Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke. According to Dr. Richard Pineda, director of the Sam Donaldson Center at UTEP, that race will be drawing plenty of voters.

When O’Rourke ran in the 2018 midterm, for U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Cruz, he saw a boost in voter turnout and is expected to see the same in this years’ election, Pineda said. However, while many will focus on the gubernatorial race, Pineda expects that larger turnout to affect other local races in El Paso too.

“A voter is going to come out and is going to vote in that race and inevitably they’re going to vote in those races that are on that ballot. It’s rare that you have a big enough inversion of people just showing up and opt not to vote in those other races, so it’s going to help but if you’re a candidate, especially in one of those municipal races, I don’t know how you channel that energy.”

For those local elections like City Council, Pineda explained that voter outreach from candidates has not been as extensive as in previous years. That can mean a missed opportunity for some candidates, he said.

“Mailers that get out after early voting starts are still potentially effective but remember the assumption is that especially in El Paso County, we got a bulk of our voters that love to do early voting so if you haven’t gotten those mailers by this past Friday or Saturday any mailer that drops after that is at risk that you already voted.”

For any voted related questions you can head to epcountyvotes.com

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