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Election Tidbits

News and notes from the municipal election beat

Fri., May 5, 2006

Non-Austinites don't normally get to help shape our city charter, but because Proposition 2, the so-called "Clean Water" amendment, would have impacts beyond city limits, voters in Austin's extraterritorial jurisdiction in Hays, Williamson, and Bastrop counties are also eligible to participate in that decision. Williamson County voters will vote in Williamson; Hays and Bastrop voters will vote in combined Travis precincts only on Prop. 2 (go to www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/20060513/polls.asp for a list of locations, the ones at the end starting with "BC" or "HC" – or just vote early at any Travis Co. early voting site). When Travis Co. reports the final city of Austin results, it will include the Williamson county totals. – Lee Nichols

Paper ballots are not quite dead in Travis County, despite our eSlate electronic voting machines. Voters who have recently moved from one address to another within the county, but are still on voter rolls at their old address, must cast their ballot under the "fail-safe voting" guidelines handed down by Secretary of State Roger Williams. This means that election workers must identify the common races between the voter's old precinct and the new one. Any races unique to either the old or new precincts will be crossed off a sample ballot, and the voter will be allowed to vote only on the commonalities. If you have moved recently and think you may not be registered in your new precinct, Travis Co. Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir urges you to vote early (again, through May 9) rather than waiting until election day. – L.N.

Although the Chronicle coverage of this month's municipal election is focused solely on the big three (city of Austin, AISD, and Austin Community College), our readers outside the central city know that the Travis Co. Elections Division will be busier than that – the county has contracted to conduct elections for 32 different jurisdictions (plus a proposed new one, Emergency Services District 13) for May 13 balloting. That's good news for Travis voters – hopefully the days are gone when a voter might have to go to one polling location for a City Council race, another for school board, and yet another for a utility district or somesuch. This time around, it's one-stop voting. Of course, during early voting (through May 9), any Travis resident may vote at any early or mobile voting location anywhere in the county. Just tell election workers where you live, and they'll pull up the appropriate electronic ballot. – L.N.

At press time, we only had two days of early voting under our belt, so it's probably too early to make any judgments about whether turnout will be heavy or light this election. Last year's City Council election drew 16.5% of registered voters, one of the heavier turnouts in recent years for a council election. So far, 3,699 (0.7%) have voted, but those totals are for all the contests in Travis Co. (see item above regarding the 32 different entities holding elections). Heaviest turnout has been at the Randalls in West Lake Hills (414); lightest has been at the ACC Pinnacle campus (31); 864 votes were cast at the various mobile voting sites. To find the nearest early-voting site near you, see p.10. – L.N.

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