Travis County clerk’s office: Super Tuesday off to 'rocky start’ due to coronavirus fears; more than 150,000 voters expected to come to polls on election day

Voters file into the polling place at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin on the morning of March 3. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Voters file into the polling place at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin on the morning of March 3. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Voters file into the polling place at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin on the morning of March 3. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Travis County clerk’s office said many election judges and poll workers around the county were no-shows on the morning of election day.

“Super Tuesday got off to a rocky start due to multiple no-shows of many election judges and poll workers. To the extent that the Elections Office was given a reason, it seems people were fearful of the Coronavirus,” the clerk’s office said in a written statement.

According to the statement, staff from the clerk’s office are filling in “as emergency recruits.”

“Most locations are up and running now and we’re continuing to work on resolutions to get everywhere fully staffed,” the statement reads.

Officials from Austin Public Health said on Feb. 28 the office has worked with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services to construct its coronavirus plan since January.


Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said in a statement that respiratory diseases such as the novel coronavirus spread through close personal contact and reassured residents their risk of catching an infection will not change as long as they follow certain practices.

"Our public health professionals want to reassure you that your time participating or assisting others as they cast their ballots is valued and will not change your risk of disease as long as you follow the proper hygiene practices, including frequent handwashing, avoiding touching your face, and covering coughs and sneezes," Eckhardt said in the statement.

After in-person early voting turnout in Travis County spiked to more than 120,000 in this year’s primary election, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir told Community Impact Newspaper residents can expect the number of votes on election day to surpass that number.

“That’s not exactly good news,” DeBeauvoir said at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin as polls opened. “Because what we really need is for there to be more people—perhaps 60%—early voting to take some of the pressure on election day. We’re going to see another 150,000 people come through election day today.”

Polls opened at 7 a.m. on the morning of March 3 and remain open across the county until 7 p.m. Travis County voters are free to go to any polling location. DeBeauvoir urged voters to go out as early as possible and to check the wait time map on the clerk's website to find less busy vote centers.

“There are vote centers out there that go unused, because most people just think about the grocery stores. As much as we love them, there are places where you don’t have to put yourself in a long line, and sometimes the grocery store lines are two to three hours,” DeBeauvoir said.

While 5 p.m. through the evening is the busiest time of the day, DeBeauvoir said residents should budget in some extra time if they plan to vote on their lunch break as well. She expects some voters to still be in line at the busiest polling places as late as 10 or 11 p.m., which means those centers will get a late start tallying votes and submitting results.

“Everybody sort of sits on tenterhooks waiting for those folks to finish. If we can find a way to get them to other locations so that we have more results and earlier, everybody likes that,”DeBeauvoir said.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at [email protected]


MOST RECENT

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas twice issued calls for power conservation this spring but has said it is prepared to manage the potentially record-breaking statewide demand for electricity through the summer. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislature passes power reforms as Texas grid is prepped for potentially record-breaking summer demand

The Texas Legislature wrapped up its spring session with the passage of several bills related to the power grid ahead of the system's next seasonal test this summer.

The new Symphony Square development will include an office building and 32-story residential tower. (Courtesy Greystar Real Estate Partners)
Greystar announces groundbreaking of Symphony Square office and residential development

The seven-story office project and 32-story residential tower are expected to open off of Red River Street in 2023.

The Central Health PUD site is currently being cleared to pave the way for future development. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Central Health's downtown innovation district planned unit development project approved, campus cleared for potential redevelopment

The 14-acre site located between I-35 and Waterloo Park could be redeveloped as a walkable, mixed-use commercial hub.

Photo of a for sale sign in a yard
Central Austin's median home price topped $700,000 in May

Austin Board of Realtors data shows a new record for home prices in Austin's core.

Photo of the Travis County building and sign
Travis County lays out initial funding framework for American Rescue Plan Act allocation

The first round of funding will support programs initially established with Coronavirus Relief Funds.

West Austin's Lions Municipal Golf Course was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 due to its significance in the civil rights movement as the first Southern golf course to desegregate. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austinites share their hopes for Muny golf course's future

The Lions Municipal Golf Course is part of a University of Texas-owned property that may be rezoned by the city of Austin over the coming months.

Waterloo Park will open to the public Aug. 14 with a daylong festival, and its Moody Amphitheater is set to host its first ticketed concert Aug. 20. (Courtesy Waterloo Greenway Conservancy)
PHOTOS: Waterloo Park will open Aug. 14 with full-day festival, host Gary Clark Jr. for first ticketed concert Aug. 20

The 11-acre park on Waller Creek features an amphitheater, trails, gardens, play spaces, and a food truck area.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a special legislative session will begin July 8. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces special legislative session to start July 8

Agenda items will be announced before the session begins, according to a release from the governor's office.

Photo of fireworks in downtown Austin
Austin June and July events: fireworks, gallery openings and more

The Austin Symphony's Fourth of July fireworks show is back this year at Vic Mathias Shores.

Photo of an outdoor fort art exhibit
'Fortlandia' art installation coming to Butler Hike and Bike Trail

The interactive outdoor art exhibit was originally part of the popular "Fortlandia" event at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 2020.

The Lions Municipal Golf Course is part of one of four University of Texas-owned properties that could move through Austin's rezoning process over the coming months. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Public feedback process now open for rezoning of 4 UT-owned properties, including West Austin's Muny golf course

An initial public engagement session covering the Brackenridge tracts, where Muny is located, will be held June 21.