Go Vote RIGHT NOW

Early voting starts today; take advantage and avoid long Election Day lines

Long lines frustrated voters on Election Day in the primary; the county urges everyone to avoid this kind of a mess by voting early.
Long lines frustrated voters on Election Day in the primary; the county urges everyone to avoid this kind of a mess by voting early. (photo by Lee Nichols)

Early voting for the Nov. 4 election starts at 7am today and runs through Oct. 31. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir expects record turnout at the polls this year, and as we noted in the print issue, she is pleading with people to vote early and avoid what could be a tremendous and discouraging crush late on Election Day.

Early voting is incredibly easy and convenient for Travis County residents – while Election Day voters are required to cast ballots in their home precincts, early voters may make their selections at any of the county's 26 early voting sites or dozens of mobile voting sites, and no, you don't need an excuse to vote early.

This time around, the early voting locations include two "mega sites" – north at 5501 Airport Blvd. and south at 4534 West Gate Boulevard, Suite 115 – each of which will have multiple sign-in desks and dozens of machines.

Go to The Austin Chronicle's Election Central for maps of each location, as well as sample ballots, our endorsements, and ongoing coverage.

DON'T PUT IT OFF!

UPDATE: Voter alert from the Travis County Clerk follows after the jump:

DANA DeBEAUVOIR, TRAVIS COUNTY CLERK

TRAVIS COUNTY ELECTIONS VOTER ALERT TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2008 JOINT GENERAL AND SPECIAL ELECTIONS Early Voting Extends from Monday, October 20-Friday, October 31

Dear Travis County Voter,

Voting for the November 4, 2008 election began this morning, October 20, and will run through Friday, October 31. We're preparing for record-breaking voter turnout. As many as 80 percent of Travis County's more than 600,000 registered voters are expected to show up at the polls – to double the turnout of the Primary election, when 227,778 votes were cast.

We are thrilled about the prospect of so many voters! But we want to let you know that there are steps you can take to make it easier to cast your ballot. Click on the links within this message to access the tools you need, including sample ballots and lists of Early Voting and Election Day polling places.

Challenging Traditional Voting Patterns
About half of Travis County's voters cast a ballot during Early Voting and half on Election Day. Add the fact that as many as half of the Election Day voters show up at the polls after 3:30 in the afternoon, and we may process more than 100,000 voters in the final three hours of the election period.

There are several key things you can do to ensure a smooth election experience.

1. Plan to Vote Early in Person. Texas provides no-excuse Early Voting in person, and Travis County offers one of the most extensive Early Voting programs in the state. With 12 days, and more than 25 voting sites across the county every day, Early Voting is the easiest way to cast a ballot in person – especially during the first few days of the period. And, to make it even easier, we've added two Mega Voting Sites that will feature 50 voting booths, multiple check-in stations and additional staff. Remember, during Early Voting, you may cast a ballot at ANY polling place within your registered county!

2. Confirm Your Polling Place. At least a few polling locations change each election, so be sure to check your polling place before heading out to vote.
Permanent Early Voting Dates & Locations Permanent early voting sites offer voting at fixed hours and locations throughout the entire early voting period. Voters will find such early voting sites at grocery stores, libraries, recreation centers and UTs Flawn Academic Center.
Mobile Voting Times & Locations Mobile polling places change hours and locations daily. These sites operate in government office buildings, hospitals, rural community and senior centers, and shopping locations.

3. Review a Sample Ballot. Sample Ballots for the General and Local Elections include the range of contests that Travis County voters will see on each precinct ballot.

4. Remember, On Election Day, You Must Vote In Your Registered Precinct. Your precinct number is printed on the front of your voter registration certificate. If you do not know your precinct number, you may verify your status online with the Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector's Voter Registrar's office or by calling 854-9473.

Election Day Polls are open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. Please double-check your Election Day polling place, as there are several combined precinct locations for the Primary Runoff.

5. Ballot By Mail Applications Accepted Until October 28. Texas law allows voters who meet specific qualifications to apply for a ballot by mail. Voters who are 65 or older; disabled; out of the county during the entire voting period; or incarcerated with voting rights may submit an Application for a Ballot by Mail. After the start of Early Voting (October 20), applications must be submitted by mail or contract carrier and must be RECEIVED in the County Clerks office by October 28. Send applications to PO Box 149325, Austin TX 78714-9325 or 5501 Airport Blvd., Austin TX 78751-1410.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Travis County Clerk - www.traviscountyelections.org; election@co.travis.tx.us Elections Division Phone: 854-4996 or 238-VOTE (automated voice-response system)

Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector/Voter Registrar - www.traviscountytax.org/ Voter Registration Division Phone: 854-9473

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Elections, Election 2008, early voting

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