Election Day: Travis County spends $1 million in response to COVID-19 to keep voters safe

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TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — If you are heading to cast your vote in the runoff elections Tuesday, you will notice personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer and social distancing policies in place. It’s all meant to keep voters, and election staff, safe during the pandemic.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir is expecting a big turnout for Tuesday’s election after 81,522 people cast their ballots during the early voting period. There were also 16,441 mail in votes for a total of 97,963 total votes, which is 11.8% turnout.

“I am thinking we have a very motivated electorate and they are going to come out and vote,” DeBeauvoir said.

A look back to 2016 shows 8,605 voted in the early period, which was 1.25% turnout. Turnout, so far, has been 11 times higher than four years ago.

“I think we will probably see another 81,000 in-person on election day, that puts us very close to a 20% turnout,” DeBeauvoir said.

Preparing for the election during COVID-19 hasn’t been easy though, and it also hasn’t been cheap. Travis County spent $1 million for COVID-19 response and materials.

“That is all the cleaning products, the extra high speed scanner so we can handle all the by mail, PPE for the voters and the election workers in the polling place,” DeBeauvoir said.

The other concern has been staffing the 100 polling locations. Recently, 15 election workers quit before Tuesday’s election, but DeBeauvoir says they have a plan in place.

“So what we have done is we have put in place a whole cadre of extra folks in case we do have the same problem as we did in the last primary where we had a bunch of people no show in the morning we will be able to quickly respond to it,” DeBeauvoir said.

Once this election ends, there won’t be any time to relax as all eyes will be on November.

What can we expect in November?

“I don’t know, but we are going to try to plan for whatever it looks like what that future will be so we can protect voters,” DeBeauvoir said.

DeBeauvoir says she is also worried about where people will vote in November. She says if students are in school, they will lose all of those polling locations and will have to find other places to move to.

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