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Where Are Austin's Early Voters Casting Their Ballots in Runoffs?

Early voting ends tomorrow for the city of Austin’s runoff elections.  This is the first time the city elected a city council based on single member districts, where council members represent specific neighborhoods. But early voter turnout seems to be falling into a familiar pattern.

The latest numbers show 23,368 voters cast their ballots at nine of the top 10 voting locations, all of which were west of I-35. In total, 37,323 Austinites have voted in early runoff election voting, with 2,754 voting in mobile locations and 6,468 mailed in their ballots.

Voter turnout has always been higher in more affluent neighborhoods in West Austin, and that’s the case again this year – although, turnout in the runoff has been generally low across the board.

"I think the first few days was something under a percent," says Mike Kanin, publisher of the Austin Monitor. "We’ve moved a little since then but we’re still looking at a fraction of the population that's participating.”

In early voting people are allowed to vote where ever they want.  So, a vote cast in a West Austin grocery store could be from an East Austin resident. Kanin says we’ll have to wait until election night, to know for sure what the new district system meant for participation.

“We moved the elections to November in order to get more folks to come out. But the December runoff is clearly having an impact on turnout. I think that we’re establishing some baselines.  That’s what this year means to me at least. You know, how many people will come out to vote in an election that received an enormous amount of attentions in a runoff that’s nine days before Christmas."

Early voting ends tomorrow, and Election Day is December 16th.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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