Travis County early voter turnout low ahead of key election

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TRAVIS COUNTY (KXAN) — Just 8% of registered voters in Travis County have cast a ballot early ahead of the May 1 election.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said that number is below her original projection. She now thinks 20% of registered voters will weigh in during this election cycle, down from her original estimate of 30%.

“I think we may see a surge at the end,” she said. “I think voters are still looking at and considering what their choices are for the City of Austin propositions. I don’t think voters have exactly made up their minds for all of those propositions.”

As expected, the election is well off the pace of the 2020 presidential election when 71% of voters, or 612,696 people, cast ballots.

However, DeBeauvoir said the early results are pretty typical for a municipal election.

“The last municipal election that we had turned out at more like 30% or better, so we have seen better turnout in municipal elections, but it’s certainly not the smallest,” she said.

COVID-19 precautions are still in place, including masking, social distancing, and other personal protective equipment requirements. DeBeauvoir doesn’t believe that’s impacting turnout, however.

While she didn’t have any trouble recruiting election workers for this cycle, she worried that could change during future elections if the state legislature passes laws allowing poll watchers “rank access.”

As for Proposition B, which would make camping illegal in any public area not designated by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, DeBeauvoir said she believes it’s a major reason people are choosing to vote this cycle, but added some may be taking more time than usual to make up their minds about how to vote.

“It’s touched people in their hearts, and I think they’re trying to make the right decision,” she said. “I think just as many people are being cautious and have delayed their vote as are people who want to get out there and make their statement about it right away.”

Ultimately, DeBeauvior believes that could drive more people to the polls May 1.

While a typical election year sees turnout around 60% of total voters for early voting, DeBeauvior said this year could be closer to a 50-50 split. If you wait until May 1 to cast your vote, get there early.

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