What Travis County voters should know ahead of early voting opening June 29

Voters line up at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex on primary election day March 3. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Voters line up at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex on primary election day March 3. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Voters line up at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex on primary election day March 3. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Travis County clerk is encouraging residents to come to the polls early in order to avoid long lines ahead of the July 14 elections.

Early voting begins June 29 across the state. Gov. Greg Abbott extended the early voting period and and pushed back the election date as precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Polling locations

There are 20 early voting locations located throughout the county, including 14 in Austin. They will be open Monday-Saturday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday from noon-6 p.m. On July 3 and July 4, voting will be closed in observance of the Fourth of July holiday. A map of voting sites from the Travis County Clerk can be found below.

Who’s on the ballot

If no candidate for an elected office received more than 50% of the vote in the March 3 primary election, the top two vote-getters advanced to the July 14 runoff.

In addition to the primary runoffs, a special election to fill the vacant seat of former state Sen. Kirk Watson’s District 14 seat will be held. Six candidates will appear on the ballot to serve the remainder of the term through 2022.

In the U.S. senator Democratic runoff race, Royce West and MJ Hegar are running for the right to face incumbent Sen. John Cornyn in November. The race for another federal seat, U.S. House District 17, is contested on both sides. Pete Sessions and Reneé Swann are competing for the Republican nomination while Rick Kennedy and David Anthony Jaramillo face off on the Democratic side to represent the district that includes parts of northern Travis County.

Countywide Democratic primary runoff races include district attorney, where José Garza faces incumbent Margaret Moore, and county attorney, where Laurie Eiserloh and Delia Garza are vying to replace the retiring David Escamila.

A full sample ballot can be found at the Travis County Clerk's website.

Safety measures

The clerk’s office is recommending face masks for all voters. In addition, voters are encouraged to keep 6 feet of distance, bring their own pen, and wash or sanitize their hands upon entry and exit of the polling location.

In addition, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe signed orders June 18 that mandate all commercial businesses require visitors to the premises wear face coverings—the order is in effect through Aug. 15. Most early voting sites are in public buildings such as schools, libraries and recreation centers. The lone exception is the Southpark Meadows site, which is located in a shopping mall in South Austin.

Mail-in ballots

Voters who are 65 years or older, disabled, out of the country, or confined to jail but otherwise eligible to vote may apply for a ballot by mail. In May, the Texas Supreme Court ruled those requirements should stay in place—siding with the state attorney general in a legal battle over whether mail-in ballots should be expanded to more Texans in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

As of June 22, the Travis County clerk said it has received more than 28,000 ballot by mail applications—a volume that nearly equaled the 2016 presidential election and is approaching the record of 31,000 requests.

Voters can still send applications to the county for a ballot by mail if they qualify. For the July 14 election, all requests must be received by July 2.
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]


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