35,890 voters cast ballots in person on Travis County's first day of early voting

A photo of voters in line
Dozens of Travis County residents wait in line to vote at the Ben Hur Shrine Temple in North Austin on Oct. 13, the first day of early voting. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Dozens of Travis County residents wait in line to vote at the Ben Hur Shrine Temple in North Austin on Oct. 13, the first day of early voting. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Update: 10:10 p.m., Oct. 13

In Travis County, 35,890 residents voted in person on Oct. 13, the first day of early voting for the November 2020 election. This turnout falls just shy of the first day of early voting in 2016, when 35,999 voters showed up to the polls.

However, the 22,577 mail-in ballots received Oct. 13 this year far outnumber those received on the corresponding date in 2016, when just 11,020 had been received. This year's drive-thru hand delivery option for ballot-by-mail voters new, and may account in part for this increase.

In total, 58,467 Travis County residents have voted so far, accounting for 6.84% of registered voters. At this point in 2016, 47,019 voters had cast ballots, which was 6.45% of registered voters at that time. A higher percentage of eligible voters are registered now—97% compared to just over 90% in 2016.

The in-person voting figures from both 2020 and 2016 include limited ballots cast by individuals who have recently moved from a different county in Texas and are limited to voting in state and federal races.

More information about daily voter turnout is available on the county clerk's website.

Original post: 2:15 p.m., Oct. 13

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir announced in a Twitter post that 14,000 people had cast votes by noon on Travis County's first day of early voting Oct. 13. That number had swelled from the roughly 6,000 voters DeBeauvoir confirmed to county commissioners at a meeting earlier in the day shortly before 10 a.m.

"We had people waiting overnight to get inside the polling place at 7 a.m. There’s lines almost everywhere, but they were quickly processed, and now it’s more of a steady flow of voters," DeBeauvoir told commissioners.

Information about polling locations and wait times is available at www.votetravis.org. As of 1:30 p.m., 27 of Travis County's 37 early-voting locations were reporting wait times of more than 20 minutes on the website.

County Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant announced Oct. 12 after the deadline for Texans to register to vote for the upcoming election that 97% of eligible Travis County voters were registered, a local record. Those registered voters have until Oct. 30 to vote early. They may also vote on Election Day on Nov. 3, when 178 election centers will be available.

Voters who qualify to vote by mail—including those who are over the age 65, have a disability or expect to be out of the county during the in-person voting window—have until Oct. 23 to request a ballot, but DeBeauvoir cautioned against waiting until the last minute to do so.

“I do not suggest that people wait until Oct. 23 to ask for a ballot. You are pretty much guaranteed that you will not make it through the postal system. If you have to ask for one that late, plan to use hand delivery,” she said.

Hand delivery of mail-in ballots is available at the clerk's business office at 5501 Airport Blvd., Austin. Initially, Travis County offered hand delivery of mail-in ballots at several locations downtown, but Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting hand delivery to a single location in all Texas counties caused those locations to shut down for the time being despite challenges to Abbott's order. There are 16 drive-thru bays positioned at the Airport hand-delivery location, according to DeBeauvoir, and cars are able to move through the drive-thru ballot delivery process in around two minutes.

So far, Travis County has received 78,000 ballot-by-mail requests, 86% of which have come from voters over the age of 65, DeBeauvoir said. Around 75,000 of those requested ballots have been distributed, and 14,400 have been returned, including around 6,000 that have been returned by hand delivery.

This is a developing story. Updated early-voting numbers will be shared as they become available.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


Photo of two people preparing vaccine vials
Austin Public Health: herd immunity could be in sight

Around 70% of Travis County residents currently have some antibody protection from COVID-19.

Rendering of a condo building
Luxury condos moving into former HOPE Outdoor Gallery space

The project's developer is partnering with the gallery to preserve and relocate the site's artwork.

Austin's phased process for moving people experiencing homelessness out of unregulated encampments will roll out through the summer. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
City officials detail homeless education and enforcement plan with Proposition B ordinances now in effect

The process that will eventually remove the city's homeless encampment begins this month with outreach and warnings and will stretch until late summer with full enforcement.

Residents will have until May 2023 to obtain a Real ID. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
US Department of Homeland Security extends Real ID deadline until 2023

Drivers will have until May 2023 to get the Real ID, which will be required for adults boarding a U.S. commercial flight.

Susan Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. (Courtesy American Medical Association)
'I am convinced we will beat COVID': American Medical Association President Susan Bailey discusses vaccine successes, myths, challenges

Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. Much of the organization's focus during that time has been on vaccine transparency and distribution.

Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's homeless ordinances back on books May 11, but arrests, camp clearings won't start until July

Austin announced a "phased process" to introduce Proposition B ordinances beginning with one month of outreach followed by one month of warnings and citations before arrests or clearances begin as necessary.

Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
FDA expands Pfizer vaccine authorization to children ages 12 to 15 years old

This is the first time people under the age of 16 have been granted access to a coronavirus vaccine.

Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopened to the public in April. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopens in Austin; turf fields open in Pflugerville and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

I-35 traffic
State now accepting public input on North Austin I-35 overhaul project

The public now has the ability to review and provide feedback on planning materials for a $400 million I-35 project.

Austin Bouldering Project currently operates a gym on Springdale Road in Austin. (Courtesy Austin Bouldering Project)
Local rock-climbing gym to open new location in South Austin this fall

The new gym will have comparable offerings to the original in East Austin.