The Austin Chronicle

Election Day One: Turnout Low, Slow

By Richard Whittaker, October 20, 2014, 11:51pm, Newsdesk

When the City of Austin and Austin ISD voted to move their elections to November, to coincide with the general election, hopes were high that it would boost participation. With the first day early voting totals in, it seems those hopes may have been optimistic for overall turnout, but it's a good sign for municipal engagement.

The Travis County Elections Division reports that 17,186 votes were recorded today: 10,257 in person, and 6,929 mail-in ballots received, for a total turnout of 2.63%. If this pattern continues, then turnout should beat the 39.86% rate in November 2010, the last off-year election.

That's still down from the 20,935 (3.3%) on the first day of early voting in November 2012, but that number is skewed because it was a presidential year. However, it's up dramatically from the first day of the May 2012 elections: Even with a mayoral race on the ballot, that first day only pulled in 2,174 voters (0.45%). It's also a huge improvement over the May 2010 AISD races, when only 2.52% of registered voters turned out in total throughout the entire election. So while overall turnout is still less than stellar, at least more people are having their voices heard in these important races.

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