Election Day is here and hundreds of thousands are expected to head to the polls in Travis County. More than 237,000 Travis County voters cast a ballot during early voting—that's a little over 37 percent of registered voters. Traditional voting patterns show that half of registered voters don't vote until Election Day.
More Texans than ever before are registered to vote in this election—13.64 million people. Presidential elections typically bring more voters to the polls. In 2008, more than 402,000 Travis County residents voted in the presidential election.
Here are six things you should know if you're headed to the polls today:
1. Registered Travis County Voters Can Vote Anywhere in the County:
For this election, Travis County Commissioners approved vote centers. That means registered voters can forget about their precincts and cast a ballot anywhere in the county with a 'vote here' sign. These places include schools and libraries along with locations used for early voting such as grocery stores.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
2. You Can Still Only Vote Once:
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says though voters can cast a ballot anywhere in the county, a system is in place to prevent voter fraud.
“Once you go in and vote, then your name is marked off the voter registration list. And every single polling place maintains a direct connection to the voter registration roll. So we all know the minute you vote; you’re scratched off the voter registration roll, and all the polling places know it," DeBeauvoir says.
3. You Don't Need a Photo ID:
The state's new photo ID law will not be in effect this Election Day.
But Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade says you’ll still have to show something that says you are who you say you are.
“Hopefully you’ll bring your voter registration card with you,” Andrade says. “But if you do not have that, we have a very user-friendly website, votetexas.gov, that has a list of accepted identification that you can bring with you.”
Acceptable forms of ID include a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.
4. The Lines Will Probably be Long:
City of Austin voters are facing a long list of propositions. DeBeauvoir says voters need to plan to spend a little more time in the voting both to get through the long ballot.
“It is going to take you about 12 to 15 minutes to vote it," DeBeauvoir says. "So we would encourage everybody to just give yourself a few extra minutes, don’t rush yourself. You might even think about taking notes in with you to the polling place so that you can just have a calm few minutes to make your decisions."
That means everyone will probably also spend more time waiting in line for their turn to cast a ballot.
5. Turn Off Your Phone:
DeBeauvoir suggests voters make the most of their time in the voting booth by bringing notes with them. But the notes will need to be on paper because state law bans electronic recording devices from polling places—and since almost every cell phone now has a camera or video camera….that means they’re not allowed.
DeBeauvoir says voters can keep their cell phones in their pockets or purses.
“Do bring notes only don’t take them on your iPad," DeBeauvoir says. "We really do mean paper notes. They can be newspaper notes, brochure notes, your own notepad notes, anything you like on paper. It helps you speed things up when you go to vote. You can remember how you were going to vote on particular propositions and candidates. It’s very helpful and certainly appreciated by the voter behind you in line."
6. Catch a Free Ride:
Capital Metro is offering free rides on all buses and the MetroRail throughout the day on Election Day to help people get to the polls.