Early Voting

Callie Richmond/The Texas Tribune

Texas has historically low rates of voter turnout. In the last gubernatorial election in 2010, less than a third of eligible voters cast a ballot.

That was the second lowest turnout in the nation that November, but one group of voters has proven pretty reliable – even in Texas.

Early voting starts today for the May 27 primary runoff election.

What's on the Ballot:

The Republican ballot includes a runoff for the Lieutenant Governor nomination between incumbent David Dewhurst and State Senator Dan Patrick and also runoffs for Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and Railroad Commissioner.

On the Democratic side, voters will pick a U.S. Senate candidate and a candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture.

Who Can Vote:

Those who cast a ballot in the March 4 primary election can only vote in the same party’s primary runoff. Those who didn’t vote in the primary may choose which primary to vote in.


Early voting starts today for the May 10 municipal elections in cities across Central Texas.

Voters in Bee Cave, Manor, New Braunfels, Round Rock and West Lake Hills are choosing mayors and city council members. Several school districts are also holding bond elections. 

Early voting continues through Tuesday, May 6. Election Day for the municipal elections is Saturday, May 10. A valid photo identification is required to vote in person.

Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Who wants to be "number two"?  LBJ was famously warned that the job of vice president’s not worth a warm bucket of spit. (Or something like that.)

But it’s a different thing being "number two" in Texas. Indeed the Lieutenant Governor in Texas wields enormous power in steering legislative policymaking. Right now four prominent Republicans are duking it out for the party’s nomination, including incumbent David Dewhurst, State Sen. Dan Patrick, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, and – in the first of our conversations with the candidates in the major statewide races – Jerry Patterson, who’s hoping to trade his current job as Land Commissioner for a new role as Lt. Governor.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Update at 7:16 p.m. The office of State Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, tells KUT News that she will no longer pursue a vote on her bill to reduce the number of days of early voting. 

Earlier: An effort to reduce the number of early voting days in Texas received a blistering response from Democrats today at the state Capitol, as members of the House Elections committee said they suspected the bill was intended to disenfranchise minority voters.

Among those testifying in favor of House Bill 2093 was Skipper Wallace of the Texas Republican County Chairman’s Association.  He said reducing the number of early voting days from 12 to seven would save money and still provide plenty of time for people to cast a ballot.


Update 2 (Nov. 5): Early voting is over in Austin, but on Election Day (Nov. 6) Austin voters can cast ballots at any polling place in Travis County.

Update (Nov. 2): Today is the last day to cast a ballot during early voting. Most early voting locations are open until 7 p.m. but the "Mega Voting Site" at Highland Mall will be open until 9 p.m.

So far, more than 202,000 Travis County voters have cast a ballot—that’s about 32 percent of registered voters.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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.

On Election Day, Travis County voters do not have to cast a ballot at their precinct but can vote at any polling location in the county.

Suppose Sandy had struck a week later. With power out across multiple states, how would people be able to vote on Election Day?

"If this were happening next week, we have no provisions for dealing with this in law," says Thad Hall, a political scientist at the University of Utah.


KUT News has received a lot of feedback on “Why Bother,” our series on voter engagement. Suggestions that include ideas for making voting and voter registration easier, personal recollections and more. We expect to hear more tonight, at a taping of “Why Bother? Voices of a New Generation,” in KLRU’s Studio 6a.

But one criticism KUT News has received involves the existing process potential voters need to take to vote – and whether local news organizations, including KUT, have done enough to make that process understandable.

A blog post by a local web designer, A. Lista, questions why KUT is probing voter disengagement when the actual process to voting is itself convoluted. The blog shows step by step what happens when one searches “how to vote austin tx” on Google. Seven screens later, the author says she is “exhausted, frustrated, and pretty annoyed with all the extremely unhelpful government websites:”

Both the local news and KUT have suggested many times that voters are apathetic and unengaged, but like the government, neither has aired simple instruction on how to actually go about voting. How do you know you’re registered? Where do you go to vote? These things are confusing.

Registering to vote in Texas isn’t that easy: one suggestion we’ve heard is that online registration would make things a lot easier. But Texas law requires voter registration cards to be sent in by mail or hand delivered in-person.


Last Day to Vote Early

Today is the last day to cast your ballot early in the primary runoff election.

You can click here to find a list of early voting locations in Travis County. Most locations close at 6 p.m. The polling place at the Travis County Offices on Airport Boulevard is open until 7 p.m.

Less than three percent of registered Travis County voters have cast a ballot so far.

Election Day for the primary runoff is Tuesday. On Election Day you’ll only be allowed to vote at your precinct.

Colorado Shooting Victim Remembered in Austin

A funeral for the former Austinite killed in the Aurora movie theater massacre will take place in Austin today.

Courtesy Cowden Family

Texans Victims of Colorado Shooting

An Austin native was one of the 12 people killed in Friday’s shooting at a Colorado movie theater.

Gordon Cowden, 51, of Aurora, took his two teenage children to the midnight premiere. They were not injured.

Cowden’s family described him as a “true Texas gentleman.” They say he was a “loving father, outdoorsman and small business owner.”

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

You have just hours left to vote early in the Texas Primaries.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says so far turnout has been disappointing. She believes it’s because the election coincides with prom season, graduations and the beginning of summer vacation.

When the polls opened this morning, just 4.6 percent of registered Travis County voters had cast a ballot.

Election Day is Tuesday. DeBeauvoir thinks the holiday weekend could also keep voters away from the polls.

Voting photo by KUT News; Qatar photo by Emre Rende, via The Texas Tribune; Friedman photo courtesy flickr.com/i8nastyman

Last Day of Early Voting

Today is the last day of early voting for the Texas Primaries. So far 27,539 Travis county voters, 4.6 percent of the eligible voting population have cast their ballots. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir anticipates a busy day at the polls.

“We won’t be surprised to see two to three times the number of votes cast on the final day of Early Voting compared to the first days of the period," says DeBeauvoir.

Voters are reminded that most polls will close by 6 p.m. today. Election day is May 29.

Photos by KUT News

Vote Anywhere During November's Presidential Election?

The Travis County Commissioners are meeting this morning to talk about using vote centers for the November 2012 Presidential election.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says vote centers, or countywide polling places, give all registered Travis County voters the option to vote at any polling location in the county on election day. Right now, that’s only allowed during early voting.

Graphic by Todd Wiseman,Texas Tribune

According to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, the Republican U.S. Senate primary may lead to a runoff election.

The poll of likely voters shows Lt. Governor David Dewhurst leading former Solicitor General Ted Cruz by only nine points, 40 to 31 percent, with neither candidate reaching the 50 percent threshold required to avoid a runoff.

UT government professor Daron Shaw tells the Tribune that "If they're in a runoff, Dewhurst is in trouble,” as the Trib calls 2012 “a year in which insurgent candidates have been scoring big wins against establishment Republicans.” 

Image by Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Turnout continued to climb on the final day of early voting for the Austin city elections, although overall turnout never managed to surpass that of Austin’s last mayoral election.

Early voting returns for Tuesday, April 8, showed 6,094 ballots cast in Travis County. (That doesn't include precincts in Williamson County that vote in the Austin elections.) That brought early voting totals to 23,257 ballots – or 4.87 percent of registered voters.

In the image above, you can see how overall early voting in Travis County compares to Austin’s last two general city elections.

With early voting drawing to a close, turnout in the Austin city elections saw an expected uptick.

Friday turnout – 2,449 votes in all – broke this election’s previous best of nearly 2,200 on the first day of early voting. Turnout was similar on Saturday, with a total of 2,358 votes, before dropping off on Sunday, with only 897 ballots cast. Total overall turnout for early voting is now 13,713, or 2.87% of registered voters.

KUT News had previously described turnout as on track to beat 2011, Austin’s last City Council election, but possibly not 2009, Austin’s last mayoral election. And as depicted in the graph above, that prediction looks about right. Plotting the first seven days of early voting from 2009, 2011 and 2012, this election cycle’s turnout is solidly lodged between Austin’s last two contests.

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Congratulations, Austin. You’ve cracked one percent!

Yesterday’s early voting totals in the Austin city election were in line with what we’d seen all week, with 1,918 ballots cast. That covers both in-person voting and voting by mail. And it brings the total count to 6,117 – or 1.28% of registered voters.

The Northwest Austin Randalls, at Research and Breaker, led the day again, delivering 221 votes. Meanwhile, the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center in East Austin served as low vote-getter, with a scant 19 ballots cast.

Photo by Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Second day tallies are in for early voting in the Austin city elections.

1,821 Austinites went to the polls yesterday – a hair's-breadth better than Monday's number of 1,779. Add in ballots received by mail, which exhibited a drop-off from day one, and a total of 2,026 ballots were cast yesterday. That brings Austin’s grand vote total to 4,200 – or .88% of registered voters. That’s almost one percent.

A Randalls in Northwest Austin, at Research and Breaker, lead day two, delivering 213 votes. By contrast, only 16 people voted at East Austin’s George Washington Carver Complex, the low vote-getter of the day.

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Early voting in the Austin city elections is in full swing – i.e., characteristically low.

Turnout for Monday, April 30, the first day of early voting, shows a total of 2,174 votes. That’s only .37 percent of registered voters. One third of one percent.

Some areas are attracting more voters than others. North Austin’s Ben Hur Shriners Hall at 7811 Rockwood Ln., led the pack with 180 total votes. A Randall's grocery store in Northwest Austin, at Research Boulevard and Braker Lane, pulled in 175 votes. And the Travis County offices on Airport Boulevard nabbed 169 votes.

KUT News

Early Voting Begins Today

Early voting begins today in the Austin city election. There are a total of 14 candidates running for four different positions, including mayor and three city council seats.

You can find information on the candidates and their views on Austin’s pressing issues at kutnews.org. You can stream interviews with candidates for the Place 5Place 2 and Place 6 seats, and beginning today, interview with Austin’s mayoral candidates. The City of Austin has also put videos for the council candidates including those vying for mayor.