‘This actually affects you’: Raising awareness about November election to fight low voter turnout

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Next week, Texans will begin voting on a wide range of issues with very real effects. Early voting starts Monday for the Nov. 2 election.

Voters statewide will decide whether to approve eight constitutional amendments. Many cities and school districts will have things like mayoral elections and bond votes on their ballots. But in most cases, those items will be decided by relatively few voters.

In the 2020 general election, Travis County’s voter turnout was 71%. But it dropped to 22% in a local election earlier this year and is expected to drop even more next month. In a 2017 constitutional amendment election, Travis County saw a less than 6% voter turnout.

Valerie DeBill with League of Women Voters in Austin blames low voter turnout on a lack of publicity.

“There’s not as many commercials, there’s not as many signs, there’s not as many things going on,” DeBill told KXAN News in an interview.

But low voter turnout in off-year elections ends up disproportionately hurting those who don’t show up, which tends to be the average voter.  

“Things like the constitutional amendment… being able to raise infrastructure that will affect your property taxes. And so if you don’t realize that that’s a follow on effect, you might not realize that this actually affects you,” said DeBill.

When asked about what can be done to increase turnout, DeBill said “knowing that it’s [elections] happening… just a couple of weeks ago, we registered people who were asking me, you know, basically about 2022, they thought that that was the next election, because they didn’t even know that there was one this year.”

Early voting is Oct. 18-29 and Election Day is Nov. 2. You can find polling locations by logging in to the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

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