Turnout for Austin runoff election likely to be cut in half

Most voting precincts, including the Carver library branch location in East Austin, had lines out the door during the Nov. 4 election. So far, only 6.11 percent of registered voters have cast ballots for the Dec. 16 runoff election.

With three days of early voting left, only 6.11 percent of registered Austin voters have cast their ballots.

A total of 33,751 people participated in early voting by Dec. 9 out of 552,192 eligible Travis County voters. Four of eight voting locations to have more than 1,000 votes cast by Dec. 9 are located in Central Austin.

The runoff election is expected to decide who will win several races, including Austin's next mayor, seven of the 10 City Council districts, three Austin ISD trustee seats and one Austin Community College board trustee position.

The general election ended Nov. 4, during which 38.24 percent of registered voters cast their ballot. From that total, 22.2 percent have voted during the early voting period, according to Travis County Elections data.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, who is in charge of counting ballots in Travis County, said the turnout for the runoff has not been great, but she is hoping it improves before the 7 p.m. Dec. 12 deadline.

"We're not doing real well with turnout," DeBeauvoir said. "Runoffs really are driven by the candidates. You can have a runoff that exceeds the original turnout, or you can have a runoff that's really small. It just all depends on the campaigns."

Campaigns can encourage stronger voter turnout through a strategy called Get Out the Vote, or GOTV, DeBeauvoir said. This program involves campaigners calling and visiting potential voters and interacting with them directly to encourage voting.

Based on numbers so far, DeBeauvoir said she expects between 10 percent to 20 percent of registered voters to cast ballots by the time the runoff election is over.

General election turnout was typical for a November election, she said, but was notably higher for a city election. However, that improvement was expected because of the multiple local issues placed on the November ballot—in addition to all the state elections.

"It was an improvement; it was good news," DeBeauvoir said. "It was exactly what we were all hoping for by moving the election to November."

The four Central Austin voting locations with more than 1,000 early votes cast as of Dec. 9 include the Ben Hur Shrine Center, 7811 Rockwood Lane; Howson library branch, 2500 Exposition Blvd.; Randalls grocery store, 2025 W. Ben White Blvd.; and the Travis County Tax Office, 5501 Airport Blvd.

Many people may be under the perception that if they did not vote in the general election they cannot vote in the runoff; however, DeBeauvoir said voters still have an opportunity to vote regardless of participation Nov. 4.


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