Only decorated pumpkins can be seen outside the polling site Friday afternoon inside the Denton Civic Center, as early voting has gotten off to a slow start. Through Thursday, only about 4,000 people, or less than 1% of registered voters countywide, have turned out to vote in the November state constitutional amendments election.

If just one more voter casts a ballot, voter turnout in The Lakes Fresh Water Supply District will smoke past the turnout countywide.

Although, it’s only because one plus one equals two.

One of The Lakes Fresh Water Supply District’s 100 registered voters has voted so far. Meanwhile, less than 1% of registered voters countywide cast a ballot in the first four days of early voting for the Nov. 5 election.

Texas is notorious for poor voter turnout. Off-year elections — typically when the state asks voters to consider amendments to the state constitution — have some of the lowest.

Depending on the pace, total turnout could be slightly better than two years ago. Just 20,565 Denton County residents made it to the polls in 2017, a 4.4% voter turnout. It was a little better in 2015, if an 8.9% turnout, or 9 out of 10 voters staying home, is “better.”

Brandy Grimes, deputy elections administrator, said this year is looking a little better.

“Yes, 2017 was terrible,” Grimes said, checking on an old report to compare.

She noted about 1,600 more voters overall in the first four days this year compared with 2017.

Special taxing districts have put more active contests on the ballot this November than the state or local governments. Special taxing districts are organized by real estate developers to fund roads and water and sewer lines for large subdivisions with public bonds. But they have very few voters in them. When first formed, the special taxing districts often have just one or two voters for elections that authorize millions in bonds thanks to a quirk in state law.

The bond election seems to have energized Denton voters a little more than the constitutional amendments have inspired the rest of the county. From Monday through Thursday, 1,260 Denton voters cast ballots in the city’s $221.5 million bond election — a 1.5% turnout.

The Texas Legislature has asked every voter statewide to consider 10 amendments to the constitution, including one that will make it difficult for future state officials to adopt a state income tax (Proposition 4).

But even that shiny object doesn’t seem enough to get voters off their duff.

Early voting continues through Friday at two dozen county locations, with most of those locations open Saturday and Sunday, too.

For more information, visit votedenton.com.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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