AUSTIN (KXAN) — The risk of severe weather is increasing in the Central Texas area Friday evening, with damaging winds and tornadoes — at EF-2 intensity or higher — being the most pressing concerns.
The day we could see the highest risk for tornados since March is also the last day of early voting.
“As always, safety is our main concern, and we will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves,” a spokesperson for the Travis County clerk’s office said.
Meanwhile, Williamson County, which could see the brunt of the severe weather, said: “We plan our polling sites to be open their scheduled hours tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., unless something physically happens to one of our polling locations that causes the building owner to close the facility.”
2016 storm meets election
It’s not the first time Travis County has seen severe weather during early voting, which allowed us to go back and look at how many voters showed up rain or shine. In the 2016 runoff in May, we saw 3.7 inches of rain, which led to flash flood warnings and even water rescues in the area.
Tapping into data from the Travis County clerk’s office, we can see voter turnout dipped only lightly during those storms on May 19, 2016 — day four of early voting.
Early voting data dating back years shows Travis County voters who vote early tend to do it the first day. Others wait for Election Day.
“It’s not like Christmas, where we have that last day before Christmas, where you do all your shopping. It’s more people just taking advantage of the very last day, but not the record numbers that you’ll generally see early in the period,” said St. Edward’s University political science professor Brian Smith.
But he also says the foul weather certainly isn’t going to help already low voter turnout in Central Texas.
“Bad weather does depress turnout and it doesn’t take much, unfortunately, in the United States, to convince people not to vote,” Smith said.