By JO CLIFTON, Austin Monitor
Travis County voters have set an early voting record. County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir released figures late Tuesday showing that 35,873 voters cast ballots in person on Oct. 13. In addition, the county received 22,577 mail ballots and 17 limited ballots. That’s a little less than 7 percent of the county’s total registered voters.
The closest locations to Four Points to vote are Peace Lutheran Church and the Lakeway Activity Center which each had more than 900 voters cast their ballots the first day, 936 and 953 respectively.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said she was “tickled pink” by the number of people who showed up to vote. Nearly 33,700 people in the county voted during the first day of early voting in 2016.
“We knew (the first day) was going to be a really big day, but the voters have sent us the signal that they are really, really ready to vote,” DeBeauvoir said.
On the second day of early voting on Wednesday, Oct. 14, more people cast their ballots in Travis County. The total number who voted in the county was 38,119 including 968 at Peace Lutheran and 1,141 at the Lakeway Activity Center. Wednesday’s totals equaled 4.5% of registered voters in the county with 466 mail ballots received.
Those two-day records follow efforts by Travis County Tax Assessor Collector-Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant and his volunteers to register as many eligible voters as possible before the Oct. 5 deadline. He recently reported that some 97 percent of the county’s 855,000 eligible citizens are registered to vote.
As reported on various news sites and much of social media, eager voters got up before dawn to stand in line at many of Travis County’s 31 polling locations. Austin American-Statesman columnist Ken Herman reported via Twitter about the first day of voting, “Long line shortly after sunup at early voting location at Ben Hur Shrine Temple in North Austin.”
Travis County was not alone. Williamson County also broke its first day of early voting record, with close to 22,000 votes cast.
More than 128,000 Harris County voters cast ballots Tuesday, compared to the previous record of 68,000 voting on the first day of early voting in 2016.
In Dallas County, more than 58,000 early votes were reportedly cast Tuesday, with nearby Tarrant County receiving 33,000 mail-in ballots and more than 42,000 in-person votes.
Clearly, there was high demand for ballots in Travis County. At the Austin Central Library, which served as a voting mega-center, 1,434 Travis County voters cast ballots. Other locations that saw more than 1,000 voters included the Austin Oaks Church (1,298), the Ben Hur Shrine Center (1,365), the Carver Branch Library (1,056), the Courtyard by Marriott Austin Pflugerville (1,027), the Dittmar Recreation Center (1,109), the George Morales Dove Springs Rec Center (1,009), Holiday Inn Austin Midtown (1,161), the Millennium Youth Complex (1,159), the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center (1,002), the Pflugerville ISD Rock Gym (1,414), the Shops at Arbor Walk (1,047) and the two locations at Southpark Meadows, with 1,115 and 944 voters each.
Three polling locations in Travis County experienced minor problems Tuesday morning, DeBeauvoir said. Poll workers noticed the ballot boxes weren’t accepting ballots and called technicians, which delayed the start of early voting at those locations. DeBeauvoir said the problems were fixed by rebooting the machines.
By noon, voters at the South Austin Recreation Center, one of the sites experiencing delays, were spread six feet apart around the soccer field, standing in the hot sun, waiting for their chance to vote. There were a few umbrellas and at least one chair, but most people were unshaded. Some walked away after spending half an hour in the line. At that time, voters at the front of the line reported that they had been standing there for two hours. There was still a line, though a much shorter one, at 7 p.m., when Travis County officials declared that anyone standing in line would be allowed to vote.
DeBeauvoir said voting “started a bit slower as crews got used to it,” but added that she does not expect any other issues going forward.
Early voting ends Friday, Oct. 30. Polls are open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon-6 p.m. on Sunday.
Shawn Mulcahy of the Texas Tribune contributed to this article. The Austin Monitor is an online, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit publication that covers local government and politics in and around Austin.
Early voting Oct. 13 – Oct. 30
7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Noon – 6 p.m. Sunday
Closest Four Points
early voting sites
Peace Lutheran Church
10625 RM 620 N 78726
Lakeway Activity Center
105 Cross Creek 78734