AUSTIN (KXAN) — On election day in Travis County back in November 2019, many voters were still in line at polling places for hours after the polls had closed.
That meant a lot of waiting for those voters and a late night for election workers who weren’t able to calibrate the final election results until around 3:45 a.m.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said that people unknowingly walking out with paper ballots from the new voting machines delayed the final results. The results were also delayed because of the especially long lines.
DeBeauvoir explained that the vast majority of people in those late-night voting lines in November were people who had gone to vote at grocery stores.
“The long lines portion is getting to be more of a problem than it used to be and it’s more of a problem than it has to be,” she said.
She explained that all the people who decide to vote after they finish work on election day, “pile on, and create a three-hour line at the end of the day. Which means that instead of stopping voting at about seven o’clock — which is what the law anticipates — they are still voting at eight, nine, ten o’clock at night.”
“While we love our voters and we want them to vote, we are running very, very late and we can’t produce results from all of the grocery stores because the voters are still tying up the ballot box and we can’t get it to produce results, so it hurts everybody in that sense,” DeBeauvoir said.
How can those who haven’t voted yet avoid these long lines in the future?
DeBeauvoir recommends casting your ballot during early voting (which runs through February 28 in Texas). The lines are shorter then, she said, especially if you go mid-morning.
“But if for some reason, you really want to wait and vote on election day, then do not wait for the last hour of the day, because you have lopped off your choices to save yourself,” the county clerk noted. “So be kind to yourself, give yourself a little extra time, so that if you run into one of these locations that already have a long line, you can get back and your car, drive some place else and maybe get in a line that’s just 30 minutes.”
Travis County uses vote center voting, which means voters can cast their ballot at any polling place throughout the county. So if your neighborhood grocery store has a long line to vote, DeBeauvoir advises you to check the Travis County voting website for a list of other locations and wait times.
The Travis County Clerk’s Office says historically, the locations with the longest wait times on election day include any Randalls grocery stores, ACC Highland, the Ben Hur Shrine Center, and the UT Austin locations.
Both in 2016 and 2018 during the March primaries, the most popular early voting location was the Randalls at Research Boulevard and Braker Lane.
Other early voting locations with high numbers of early voters in those years include the Randalls at Brodie and Slaughter lanes, the Randall’s at S. MoPac and William Cannon, UT’s Flawn Academic Center, and the Ben Hur Shrine Center.
In Texas, election day for the primaries is March 3.