We Vote Where We Shop
In the Nov. 2000 presidential election, early voting ended up being closer to 45% of the total vote. It did rain last Election Day, and if weather is foul again this time, we might see total turnout of 3-4%, half of it the typically more conservative early vote. That doesn't likely matter much for Gus Garcia, but it's definitely a reason for opponents of the Travis County road bond package to worry, as the people now voting are more likely to back the bonds.
Analysts sometimes pay attention to the turnout at particular early-voting locations, particularly if they like the numbers coming out of geographic areas where they expect to do well. (In 1997, a 10-vote increase in turnout at an East Austin site got translated into a Statesman headline, "Early voting gives [Eric] Mitchell hope.") This is a bit silly, since you can early-vote anywhere, and the county's mobile voting program in fact brings the ballot box to people at work, in the hospital, and so on.
For the little it's worth, the busiest early-voting locations are Northcross Mall (1,499 votes) and Barton Creek Square (1,045 votes), with Highland Mall (659 votes) a distant third. Most other locations are in the 350-to-500-vote range. The lightest turn-outs have been at Lakeline Mall (257 votes) -- which isn't even in Travis County, but is in the Austin city limits -- and at the HEB on Springdale Road in East Austin (184 votes), which we presume does not give Eric Mitchell hope.