In 2011, Travis County implemented countywide voting centers on election day in an effort to make voting easier for residents.
The change meant that registered Travis County voters could vote anywhere in the county on election day instead of being relegated to their assigned precinct.
County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said the measure was first introduced for budgetary reasons to cut down on the number of polling sites and has had an impact on voters.
“We started this in 2011, and since then voters have gone crazy and just love it,” DeBeauvoir said. “[Countywide voting centers] makes [voting on election day] easier for everyone. They can vote at a time and place that is convenient for them.”
Retired Travis County Election Judge Roye Reeves said in her time serving with the county she saw a positive impact on voter turnout after voting centers were implemented.
Reeves, who served 13 years as the appointed Democratic election judge for Precinct 358, said voters often would get frustrated because they did not know they had to vote in their precinct on election day. She said sometimes the polling locations would change, causing confusion over where voters could vote.
“Sometimes people would just give up and not vote at all,” Reeves said. “If you make it difficult for people, they won’t vote.”
Voters throughout Travis County overall have been pleased with the opportunity to use a voting center on election day. In response to a Nextdoor post, most voters praised the ability to vote close to work and also commented on the convenience of being able to avoid long lines at busier polling locations.
Quyen Ma, a resident of the Hollow at Slaughter Creek, said she was grateful Travis County implemented the voting centers.
“Being able to vote at any voting center is convenient and easy,” Ma said. “I have made the effort to go to my precinct before, but this makes things way easier, especially if a specific polling place is busier than another.”
DeBeauvoir said overall voting turnout has increased because of the convenience of being able to vote anywhere on election day, but turnout also depends what is on the ballot.
According to the Travis County Elections Division, during the November 2016 presidential election, 65.24 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, but in the May election, 6.26 percent of registered voters voted.
“Getting to the right place to vote is the difference between getting to vote and losing your right to vote… We like to take care of our voters, and these voting centers make all the difference in the world,” DeBeauvoir said.