Early Voting Isn’t Drawing the Crowds
Four seats on the Austin City Council are up for grabs this May, including mayor. The pace of early voting rose over the weekend, but turnout remains low.
Weekend voting totals surpassed previous numbers, and historically, turnout is strongest on the final days of early voting.
But compared with Austin’s last mayoral election, in 2009, this election’s turnout is down so far.
Sherri Greenberg, director of the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, says there are some differences between 2009 and 2012, including the fact that the mayor’s seat was open then.
“Certainly the last mayoral race was fairly heated,” Greenberg said. “In this mayoral race, I think things are getting a little bit more heated as we speak. Whether or not it will approach what we saw last go-around, I don’t know, and I think that the turnout is really going to hinge on that.”
Early voting has gradually taken on more and more importance. In Austin’s 2011 City Council election, when less than 8 percent of registered voters made it out, early voting provided roughly half the overall turnout. Greenberg says we’ll probably see a similar situation this year.
“I think you could expect anywhere from 45 to 55 percent of the vote to be early voting, as opposed to on Election Day,” she said. “And some of that will depend on how much excitement there actually is in the races as they come to their conclusion.”
If you want to vote early, there’s not much time left: Early voting ends Tuesday. Election Day is this Saturday.
View Austin Early Voting Locations in a larger map