Early Voting Numbers Are Up in Austin
By Carlos Morales
Early voting has begun, and the number of people heading to the polls in this year’s election is up after the first couple of days, even though there are only a handful of contested races.
A crowd of Austinites found themselves in line Wednesday afternoon, waiting patiently as the line grew, snaking through a store in North Austin. They weren’t there for the latest gadget; they were lining up to vote early. For some voters, like Derek James, heading to the polls ahead of time meant avoiding longer lines in the future.
“This store has been as busy as I’ve ever seen it,” James said. “The parking lot has been crowded. The lines are long enough to where people have walked in, turned around and come back out and say they would vote later because it’s been that busy at this location.”
In the first two days of early voting, more than 38,000 people have voted in Travis County.
The high volume might have something to do with the record number of registered voters in Texas. According to the secretary of state, by Oct. 15 more than 13 million Texans were registered to vote.
But Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says it has more to do with this year’s ballot.
“The ballot has not only the presidential ballot on it, but we also got the city of Austin with its charter amendments and bond propositions,” DeBeauvoir said. “And we’ve also got ACC and AISD candidates. So there are a lot of local items on what would otherwise be just a presidential ballot.”
DeBeavoir says this year’s joint election will draw voters who are primarily interested in city items. That’s what influenced retired educator Douglas Hall to head out and vote.
“This seems to be routine in Austin,” Hall said. “We seem to always be voting on something. We’re either electing or nominating or voting for some proposition. To me it’s a sign of government efficiency if nothing else.”
There are 23 early voting locations in Austin, including a “mega-voting” site at Highland Mall that’s designed to support a lot of voters. Early voting runs until Nov. 2.