Around 125,000 more ballots were cast in Travis County for the 2020 general election than during the 2016 election.
In 2016, 477,588 ballots were cast, while 602,398 were cast this year. Among UT’s polling locations, 507 votes were cast at the Flawn Academic Center on Tuesday, while 382 votes were cast at Gregory Gym, according to Varun Rajaram, work elections fellow for the Campus Vote project.
Joshua Blank, director of research for the Texas Politics Project, said the country is in a historical time, which is a factor in the higher voter turnout.
“We are still in the middle of a global pandemic that the country has not contained or done a very good job containing in the last year,” Blank said. “Due to that pandemic, there has been a pretty significant negative impact on the economy, and these are the sort of big, predictable factors that should drive people to the polls.”
Although Texas will most likely still be at the bottom of the list in terms of state voter turnouts, Texas’ voter turnout has increased, Blank said.
“Going forward, I think this election will certainly improve participation rates in Texas, if for no other reason than because voting is a habit,” Blank said. “Ultimately, the biggest predictor, often, of whether or not a person is going to vote is if they voted before. So to the extent of this election, it has brought new voters into the process.”
Blank said even if someone does not normally vote in an election, this is the kind of election that raises the question, “If not now, when?”
“I think, more immediately, the reality is that Donald Trump is an extremely polarizing president,” Blank said.
Government freshman Ana Fuentes said she did not vote Tuesday and instead participated in early voting. She said she wanted her vote to count for people who are unable to vote.
“I was a freshman in high school when Donald Trump was elected, and I remember being completely devastated because the people I love the most were distraught with the results of that election,” Fuentes said. “I promised myself that I would use my vote for the people that couldn’t.”
Mechanical engineering sophomore Jaxon Cheatham said he voted for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen today despite knowing she will not win partially because he does not like the two-party system.
“I feel like there’s very little cooperation going on, and both sides are kind of just head-butting against each other,” Cheatham said. “So voting for who you like, maybe that says something, … like there’s more desire for a third option.”
Undeclared freshman Taha Chaklisha said he voted for Biden on Election Day. He said one of his main reasons for voting for Biden was related to climate change.
“Your voice counts, your voice matters, and you care about the future of the country and where we’re going,” Chaklisha said. ”And it’s our future as students. It’s kind of our responsibility to go out and take action.”