Travis County sees record number of early voters for midterm election

Nicole Stuessy

Students voting early on campus last week stood in hour-long wait lines at some points during the day, despite the addition of a new location at the Perry-Castañeda Library. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said this is a result of the record number of Travis County voters in a midterm election. 

More than 10,000 votes were cast at the PCL and the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center last week, which is the earliest this number has been reached, said Bruce Elfant, Travis County tax assessor-collector and voter registrar.

“Normally these midterm elections are sleepy little affairs,” Elfant said. “Just after five days of early voting, the turnout is about to be higher than the whole early voting period for the years 2010 and 2014.”

During the 2016 presidential election, 31,000 people in Travis County voted on the first day of early voting. On Monday, the first day of early voting this year, 32,000 people voted and there has been similar turnout every day since then, DeBeauvoir said.

“This behavior is double of what we would consider normal behavior for a midterm November election,” DeBeauvoir said.

DeBeauvoir said she is excited by the high turnout at both locations on campus, as this is the first time the PCL location has been used.

“We were certainly happy to provide the additional location,” DeBeauvoir said. “I have told commissioners court and the people at UT that I will operate as many of these locations as they are willing to fund.”

TX Votes, a nonpartisan student organization, has tabled on the West Mall every weekday, encouraging students to vote and handing out election information, said Maya Patel, TX Votes interim president.

“We have sample ballots printed out for Riverside, West Campus, North Campus and on campus dorms,” Patel said. “We also have non-partisan voting guides and non-partisan voting information to help students make their selections.”

With 18 to 35-year-olds making up the largest registered voting bloc in Travis County, chemistry junior Patel says it is now up to young people to show up to vote.

“We have a lot of power and we need to start using it,” Patel said. “Politicians are not going to listen to us until we start showing up because traditionally, we haven’t show up. If we show up for this election, they’re gonna
start listening.”