Election Day Live Coverage for Travis County

Tracking the local races

As we all doomscroll and stress-bake our way through this longest of all Election Days, Central Texas saw steady yet light turnout for most of the day – short lines, not much waiting, no shenanigans. We'll keep you posted throughout the evening.


Update: 10:41pm:

And we're going to call it a night. To sum up: Despite some bright spots, the Texas Democrats fell way short of their goals tonight for winning statewide or taking control of the Texas House, but nor did the Texas GOP reclaim much of the ground they lost in 2018. So we remain in a statewide stalemate. At present, it appears Austin's incumbent members of Congress and the Legislature will retain their seats after (in the GOP reps' case) facing the toughest, most expensive races of their careers, but that may change once Travis, Harris and Bexar counties are all fully counted overnight.

Locally it appears Jimmy Flannigan and Mackenzie Kelly are headed to a runoff in City Council District 6, and Alison Alter will almost certainly face Jennifer Virden in the second round in D10. Incumbents Greg Casar (D4) and Leslie Pool (D7) won easily, as did Vanessa Fuentes in D2 to succeed County Attorney-elect Delia Garza. Ann Howard flipped the last GOP-held seat in Travis County with her victory in the Pct. 3 Commissioner race. For the Austin ISD board of trustees, Ofelia Maldonado Zapata likewise won a handy victory in the District 2 race, but the other two contested races will go to runoffs between their leading contenders, Lynn Boswell v. Jennifer Littlefield in D5 and Noelita Lugo v. Leticia Caballero in At-Large Place 8.

AND third time's the charm for transit advocates in Austin, who lifted Proposition A to a decisive victory; Proposition B, the active transportation bond package, won even more resoundingly. We'll be drilling down much more on tonight's outcomes in this week's issue, on the streets in less than 48 hours! – Mike Clark-Madison


Update: 10:18pm:


Update: 9:45pm:

Kennedy's campaign released a concession statement at 9:31pm:

Early returns indicate that Pete Sessions has built an insurmountable lead in the race to represent Texas’ 17th district and Rick Kennedy has conceded him the victory.

The Kennedy campaign congratulates Congressman-elect Pete Sessions on his victory tonight.

“It is my hope that Mr. Sessions sees this win not as an opportunity to return to Congress and resume business as usual, but as a mandate to use his experience and seniority to the benefit of the people of Central Texas and the country,” said Kennedy.


Update: 9:12pm:

In the AISD Board of Trustees District 2 race:

Update: 9:01pm:

In an extremely tight race for re-election, D6 CM Jimmy Flannigan (l) with his partner Zach McCartney during an Election Night backyard party. (photo by John Anderson)

More returns analysis, more candidate reactions:

Lina Fisher on Hays County Election Day results:


Update: 8:28pm:

News Editor Mike Clark-Madison is watching federal races:

Early voting numbers suggest Dem County Judge candidate Andy Brown will cruise to victory over Republican candidate Michael Lovins. A former Travis County Democratic Party chair, Brown was chosen by Democratic precinct chairs to be the party's nominee to serve the unexpired term of former County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, who won the special election for Kirk Watson’s vacated Texas Senate seat.

Clara Ence Morse on likely runoffs in the AISD Board of Trustees races:


Update: 8:10pm:

Our reporters are online and in the field hearing from candidates and elected officials about early voting results, including a rosy outlook for Proposition A.



Update: 7:30pm

Early voting results are in for Travis County. Don't see the race you're looking for? Refresh the page – we're typing as fast as we can.


Update: 7:07pm

While lines in Travis County have been short on Election Day, that hasn't always been the case in outlining communities.

Why the long lines in Manor, as we showed you earlier? The city has more than 20 propositions and charter amendments on its ballot, in addition to three council races, three school board races, and the rest of the Travis County ballot. – Mike Clark-Madison

Voters arrive within the last 15 minutes before polls close to vast ballots at Celebration Church Central Austin (1006 Koenig Lane).

photo by David Brendan Hall
photo by David Brendan Hall

Update: 6:54pm

Update: 6:20pm:

With polls set to close at 7pm, voters line up at Manor ISD Admin Building, one of only a handful of polling locations with wait times exceeding 20 minutes. (See Wait Time Map for latest estimates.) (photo by David Brendan Hall)

Update: 6:01pm:

By 5:40pm, Williamson County had reported just over 23,500 in-person votes today, or just barely 10% of the fast-purpling county's early-vote total. If the GOP was counting on its voters in such places, as well as in red rural Texas, turning out today, this is not a super-encouraging data point for them. – Mike Clark-Madison


Update: 5:40pm:


Update: 5:31pm:

The latest from the Travis County Clerk's Office:

"As of 5pm, over 43,000 people have voted on Election Day. The polls close at 7 PM and anyone in line by 7 is able to vote. This is not the same for hand delivery for mail-in ballots, which closes at 7pm sharp. Mail-in ballots cannot be accepted after 7 PM, even if someone is in line then."

"During the early voting period, 486,939 people voted in person. 64,443 mail-in ballots were received during this period, bringing the unofficial cumulative early voting total to 553,290. This surpassed both the November 2016 and 2018 total turnout."

Meanwhile staff writer Austin Sanders discovers that the (slightly on edge!) local reporting community will be navigating a new (seemingly improved!) Elections Results Reporting interface (and you can too!):


Update: 4:46pm:

[Originally posted 1:27pm] Although the polls have been relatively quiet on Election Day, members of City Council’s Public Safety Committee are bracing for potential unrest following what could be a tightly contested and uncertain outcome in the presidential election.

In a letter to Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, the four PSC members requested a written response to how the department would respond to “activity involving free speech and free assembly” on Election Day and in the aftermath once votes are counted – or are in the process of being counted. It’s easy to envision scenarios where mass demonstrations spring up in response to either Joe Biden or Donald Trump conceding victory on election night, but perhaps a more troubling scenario is one in which there is no clear or likely winner going into Wednesday evening.

It’s amid that potential uncertainty that PSC Chair Jimmy Flannigan, Vice Chair Greg Casar, and the committee’s other two members, Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison and Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza want APD to tell the public how they intend to ensure the safety of demonstrators and officers.

At 4:26pm today, Chief Manley issued a memorandum on election safety, addressed to the mayor and council members, reprinted below.– Austin Sanders

Response to Public Safety Council Committee Letter on Election Safety Plan

I received a letter dated October 29, 2020 from the Public Safety Council Committee members and understand the concerns they shared. The purpose of this memo is to respond to the Committee Members’ inquiries and share available information about our plans regarding election safety. I intend to address the Committee Members’ questions surrounding the May protest incidents separately.

The Austin Police Department (APD) has put together our operational plans to address security during the upcoming election and the days that follow. The department has been diligent in taking the necessary proactive steps to ensure our operational procedures allow for the highest level of safety for all involved. While we are not aware of any planned attempts to disrupt the election process, we stand ready to address them should they occur.

Safety, Resources, and Training

The men and women of APD have worked diligently to make positive, intentional changes that make it a safer Austin for all communities. Over the past several months APD has made improvements in various areas including; policy, procedures, tools, training and tactics.

In coordination with our law enforcement partners at the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Public Safety, we are prepared to keep members of the community safe in the most peaceful and organized manner. To avoid compromising operational security, I cannot offer specifics of the plan. I can share, however, that the plan is comprehensive and emphasizes the importance of protecting those who are exercising their right to vote along with protecting those who are exercising their rights to assemble and free speech, regardless of political affiliation.

The Department has implemented tactical alert which means all officers of all ranks will report to duty in their field uniform and be ready to deploy out in the community if needed. To that end, officers assigned to protest events have undergone Mobile Field Force refresher training. Additionally, all supervisors assigned to protest events have been provided the necessary training to lead their officers in managing peaceful protestors with the least amount of physical intervention necessary.

Combatting Extremism

APD has closely examined the June 3, 2020 and October 17, 2020 incidents referenced in your letter. Our review shows that the officers involved abided by all applicable policies, did not exhibit selective enforcement, nor did they show favorable treatment of individuals.

Officers prepared proper notifications and follow-up documentation to aide in the federal case against one individual.

Ongoing Public Safety Review

The Austin Police Department remains committed to protecting and ensuring the safety of our community. We are also dedicated to full accountability, transparency and working with City Administration and Council to continue building trust and collaborating with our community.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
cc: Spencer Cronk, City Manager
Rey Arellano, Assistant City Manager


Update: 3:15pm:


Update: 2:55pm:

The Travis County Clerk reports more than 35,000 people have voted in Travis County so far today. As of 2:43pm, the Wait Time Map shows next to no waits at the 178 voting centers open throughout the county.


Update: 2:24pm:

Locally, Proposition A has turned out to be the most contentious issue on the ballot, not surprising given Austinites’ tortured history with the subject of how to pay for public transit.

Read more about Prop A in News Editor Mike Clark-Madison’s latest “Austin at Large” column.


Update: 2:18pm

Associate News and Qmmunity Editor Beth Sullivan has another watch party to add to the list:


Update: 2:11pm:

Staff photographer David Brendan Hall is checking in at polling locations around town:

Mail-in ballot dropoffs at 5501 Airport Blvd. – the city's sole location to hand-deliver mail-in ballots – held at a steady trickle of cars around noon. (photo by David Brendan Hall)
Victoria Davis volunteers at the Austin Fire Station 41 polling location for Election Protection, which offers non-partisan assistance to voters citywide and will report any voter intimidation at polls. (photo by David Brendan Hall)
Mariachi Relámpago provided entertainment for voters arriving at South Austin Senior Activity Center from 1-1:30pm. They're likewise set to appear at Austin Public Library's Ruiz branch from 3-4:30pm and the Central Library from 6-7:30pm. (photo by David Brendan Hall)

Update: 2:04pm

The Chronicle news team has been checking in with candidates on how they're feeling on Election Day:


Update: 1:49pm:

In years past, Election Night meant big watch parties, with supporters crammed into restaurants, bars, and hotel ballrooms to follow returns and cheer on their candidates in person. This year … not so much. (Which might as well be the motto of 2020.) Very few candidates are going the traditional in-person route, but there are opportunities to virtually check in with candidates. A few of the bigger parties on our radar:

• The Travis County Dems will host a virtual watch party via Zoom from 8-10pm featuring speeches from local candidates. Admission is free, but sponsorships are also available.

• Texas Democrats and Team MJ will be on Facebook Live 7-10pm. U.S. Senate Dem candidate MJ Hegar is hoping to unseat the Republican incumbent John Cornyn. Not on Facebook? Try the Mobilize platform (sign-in required).

• Council Members Greg Casar and Natasha Harper-Madison, Mayor Pro Tem and soon-to-be County Attorney Delia Garza (who drew no Republican opponent), and District Attorney candidate José Garza (heavily favored to beat Republican challenger Martin Harry) host a virtual Election Night watch party on Facebook Live starting at 6:45pm.

• Meanwhile the Travis County Republican Party is opting for an in-person watch party at Pinballz Lake Creek. RSVP required.

• The Libertarian Party of Travis County is hunkering down at Opal Divine’s to watch election returns and a livestream from President/Vice President candidates Jo Jorgensen/Jeremy "Spike" Cohen election night party.

Kimberley Jones


Update: 1:35pm:

Reporter Lina Fisher has her eye on some of the county races today, including Travis County Judge candidate Andy Brown and Travis County Commissioner candidate Ann Howard.


Update: 1:27pm:

Although the polls have been relatively quiet on Election Day, members of City Council’s Public Safety Committee are bracing for potential unrest following what could be a tightly contested and uncertain outcome in the presidential election.

In a letter to Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, the four PSC members requested a written response to how the department would respond to “activity involving free speech and free assembly” on Election Day and in the aftermath once votes are counted – or are in the process of being counted. It’s easy to envision scenarios where mass demonstrations spring up in response to either Joe Biden or Donald Trump conceding victory on election night, but perhaps a more troubling scenario is one in which there is no clear or likely winner going into Wednesday evening.

It’s amid that potential uncertainty that PSC Chair Jimmy Flannigan, Vice Chair Greg Casar, and the committee’s other two members, Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison and Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza want APD to tell the public how they intend to ensure the safety of demonstrators and officers. Thus far, APD has not produced any official response to the letter.* – Austin Sanders

*

Editor's note: See Manley's response, released at 4:26pm today, higher up in this feed.


Update: 12:43pm:

The Travis County Clerk’s Office reports that as of 12:30pm, more than 27,000 voters have cast a ballot today. Polls stay open until 7pm, and so long as you’re in line at 7pm, you’ll be able to cast a ballot.

Update: 12:22pm:

Chronicle education reporter Clara Ence Morse is tracking the Austin ISD Board of Trustees races:


Original post: 12pm:

Voters line up on Election Day morning at the Ruiz Branch of the Austin Public Library in Southeast Austin (photo by Jana Birchum)

All five counties in the Austin metro area surpassed their 2016 total turnout before the end of early voting last Friday. Is anyone left to vote on E-Day itself? Democratic activists and organizers say yes. Travis County Democratic Party Chair Katie Naranjo told the Chronicle on Monday that, while Central Austin boxes have already seen 20-30% higher turnout, just from early voting, than in comparable past elections, Eastern Crescent precincts have only run 7-10% above that baseline. So for voter contact and GOTV efforts, “the juice is most worth the squeeze in those areas.”

From talking to those not-yet-voters by phone and text throughout the weekend, Naranjo outlines a profile – “younger, Latino, particularly women, many working multiple jobs” who haven’t had time not just to cast a ballot but to think about this election at all, in contrast to those with more privilege and social capital who’ve been obsessed with it. “The Democratic Party has a lot of work to do to re-establish trust and a culture of voting in those communities,” she says. With bilingual phone banks, “we’ve had longer conversations, and an empowering message. People are responding to being asked why the GOP is fighting so hard to stop me from voting, if my vote doesn’t matter.”

Statewide, the Texas Democratic Party says, there are many more Democrats left to vote than Republicans. “Every single thing we do right now matters,” TDP Executive Director Manny Garcia told reporters Monday night. The party is focusing both on getting those last votes out of Harris County and the Metroplex – where most of the key Texas House races are – as well as increasing turnout in South Texas to give the statewide ticket the best chance of victory. “What’s different in 2020 is that we’re making a true, full-on statewide play,” added TDP deputy director Cliff Walker, “and every Democratic vote is additive to that effort.”

It also helps, the party staffers said, that Democrats have “a quality candidate everywhere” on the ballot – from “the White House to the courthouse.”

“The Democratic coalition has it so much more together than what we’re seeing on the Republican side,” said Garcia. “There’s a really consistent urgency up and down the ballot to make change at every single level of government.”

It’s expected that the highest turnout, percentage-wise, on Election Day will be among GOP voters and in the redder counties. If that doesn’t materialize – which it hasn’t yet in the purpler parts of Central Texas – the Rs may be in for a dismal night. – Mike Clark-Madison


Polls are open until 7pm. Here’s everything you need to know about voting today.

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