Travis County breaks 70% voter turnout threshold for first time since 1992

From left: Raleigh Cruz, Amy Merritt and Andrew Hargett wait in line at the Shady Hollow Village Shopping Center in Southwest Austin on Nov. 3. The Southwest Austin shopping center was one of a few in Travis County to have a wait to vote on Election Day. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
From left: Raleigh Cruz, Amy Merritt and Andrew Hargett wait in line at the Shady Hollow Village Shopping Center in Southwest Austin on Nov. 3. The Southwest Austin shopping center was one of a few in Travis County to have a wait to vote on Election Day. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

From left: Raleigh Cruz, Amy Merritt and Andrew Hargett wait in line at the Shady Hollow Village Shopping Center in Southwest Austin on Nov. 3. The Southwest Austin shopping center was one of a few in Travis County to have a wait to vote on Election Day. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Voting turnout numbers from 2020 showed a shift in the way Travis County voters are casting their ballots.

Lines were short at voting centers across Travis County on Election Day—the number of voters who went to the polls Nov. 3 was about half as much as the total Election Day turnout in 2018 and 2016. However, thanks to in-person early voting and mail-in numbers that smashed previous records, overall turnout surpassed the previous record set in 2018 by a wide margin, and Travis County passed the 70% turnout mark for the first time in nearly 30 years.

By Oct. 29, the second-to-last day of early voting, the county had already surpassed its 2018 and 2016 total vote marks. In those two previous elections, about 14% of voters came to the polls on Election Day. The 50,521 votes cast Nov. 3 represented just 5.9% of eligible voters in the county, but that was still enough to raise the total number of voters in the 2020 election up to 607,354, or 70.6% of all eligible voters.


That number slightly underperformed the expectations Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir set as early voting wrapped up. On Oct. 28, DeBeauvoir said she expected turnout to hit the high-70% mark and possibly approach 80%. However, the percentage of Travis County voters who turned out in 2020 still far surpassed the turnout of the last six presidential elections.

According to historical voter numbers from the Texas Secretary of State's Office, Travis County turnout between the 1996 and 2016 presidential elections ranged from 52.6% to 65.1%. This year marks the highest turnout in the county since 1992, when 78.3% of Travis County's 352,737 registered voters turned out in the presidential race between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
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 jflagler@communityimpact.com


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