By CASSIE MCKEE,
Four Points News
Early voting started this week and runs through Nov. 4, and the hope by election officials is to increase voter turnout in Four Points and across Texas.
In the March primaries earlier this year, voter turnout in Texas rose to 2.8 million on the Republican side and 1.4 million on the Democratic side — the largest primary showing since 2008.
However, Texas is still a low turnout state. When the numbers are put another way, 14.3 percent of Texas adults voted in the Republican primary and 7.3 percent voted in the Democratic primary. Flip that: Nearly four of every five adults in Texas didn’t cast a ballot.
Officials are hoping to change that in November. Texas has a record-breaking 15 million people registered to vote ahead of the November election, the Secretary of State’s office announced on Oct. 13.
Travis County reported then that over 90 percent of its residents had registered to vote, a milestone in the county’s history.
The trend seems to indicate that there is more momentum building for a larger turnout than the 2014 election.
District 6 results
According to an analysis of the 2014 Austin City Council election, District 6, which includes the Four Points area, had the lowest voter turnout among the 10 city council districts in Austin.
Only 22.7 percent of District 6 residents cast a ballot in the November city council election. The district with the highest voter turnout was District 10 with 44 percent. Citywide, the average turnout was 32.1 percent.
Overall turnout was significantly higher than the average turnout of 11.4 percent in city elections between 1997 to 2012, according to a report done by the Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies. That’s largely because the 2014 elections marked the first time City Council elections were held in November, at the same time as national, state and other local elections, rather than in May, the report said.
“It was massive compared to the turnouts you had in the last 25 years,” said Peck Young, director of the college’s Center for Public Policy and Political Studies.
One possible explanation for the low numbers in District 6 is that the district is split between Travis and Williamson counties, “where voters may feel estranged from Austin politics,” the report noted.
Voter turnout was 32.34 percent in Travis County precincts in District 6, but only 15.94 percent in Williamson County precincts, the report said.
Who voted in District 6
Among the districts that contain a substantial Anglo majority, District 6 contains the largest percentage of Asian American voting age population—12 percent. Hispanics are 13.8 percent, and African Americans are 4.6 percent of the voting age population.
An analysis of the demographics of District 6 voters in the 2014 general election indicates that 81.3 percent of voters were Anglo, 9.2 percent were Hispanic, and 3.9 percent were Asian Americans. The voters were predominantly female—52.1 percent—to 47.5 percent male. By age, 18-29 year-olds were 7.4 percent of the voters, 30-44 were 25.6 percent, 45-64 were 45.2 percent, and 65 and older were 21.9 percent.
In the runoff election, Anglos were 81.8 percent of the voters, Hispanics were 9.3 percent, and Asian Americans were 3.7 percent. There was a smaller percentage of females—49.4 percent—and a larger percentage of males—50.3 percent. In age, the runoff voters were older: 18-29 year-olds were 3 percent, 30-44 year-olds were 15.1 percent, 45-64 year-olds were 46.6 percent, and 65 and older were 35.3 percent.
In District 6, Don Zimmerman won the runoff election with 51.22 percent of the vote after finishing first in the general election with 24.22 percent of the vote.
Breakdown by precinct
While the council districts don’t superimpose neatly over precinct lines, there are 33 precincts within District 6. The Four Points area is made up of four precincts – 232, 234, 244 and 245.
In Pct. 232, which has 348 registered voters from the Steiner Ranch area, 26.72 percent cast a city council ballot in 2014. In Pct. 244 which also includes the Steiner area, 32.76 percent of the 751 registered voters cast a ballot. In Pct. 234, which covers River Place, 41.28 percent of the 2,362 registered voters cast a ballot. In Grandview’s Pct. 245, 29.07 percent of the 1,383 registered voters cast a ballot.
Looking ahead to November
Texas has 15,015,700 voters registered according to a preliminary estimate, about 78 percent of Texas’ estimated voting age population. That number is 777,000 more than were registered in time for the March primaries. The deadline to register to vote was Oct. 11.
“If you want to vote you must be registered, so it’s good to see that so many Texans are preparing for this November’s election,” Secretary of State Carlos Cascos said in a statement. “Registration is just the first step. I encourage Texans to prepare now for this fall’s election.”
In 2012, Texas registered 13,646,226 voters or 75 percent of the voting-age population. In 2008, the number was 13,575,062 or 77 percent of the voting-age population, according to the news release. This year’s figure amounts to 78 percent of the voting-age population and more than 1.3 million additional registered voters from four years ago, according to the news release.
Early voting for the Nov. 8 election begins Oct. 24 and runs through Nov. 4. The last day to request a ballot by mail is Oct. 28.