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Live Updates: Early Voting Starts In Texas For The 2020 General Election

Voters wait in line at the Northwest Recreation Center in Austin to cast ballots Tuesday, the first day of early voting.
Julia Reihs
Voters wait in line at the Northwest Recreation Center in Austin to cast ballots Tuesday, the first day of early voting.

It's the first day for early voting in Texas for the 2020 general election. Voters can cast ballots in person today through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Polling locations in Travis County are open Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. (Some sites will be open until 9 p.m. on the final three days of early voting.) Election officials ask people to wear a face mask when voting. Voters will be given finger coverings and wooden popsicle sticks to avoid directly touching the voting machines. Don't forget to bring a photo I.D. (If you don't have one, you have options. Read the early voting guides below.)

KUT reporters will be sharing what they see and hear throughout the day, so check back for updates.
RELATED | 2020 General Election: Everything You Need To Know In Central Texas

10 p.m. – Travis County says more than 35,000 people voted in person today

A few hours after polls closed, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir tweeted that 35,873 pepole voted in person today.

7 p.m. – Austin Police Department says it's prepared for 'unrest' at polling sites on Election Day

The Austin Police Department says it is expecting – and preparing – for bigger crowds come Election Day, as lines stretched around blocks on the first day of early voting.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, APD Assistant Chief Joe Chacon said officers are not actively monitoring any polling locations, but he did acknowledge the department would be on tactical alert for the first week of November to deal with any “unrest” that might occur.

That means all APD officers will be in uniform and ready to respond if needed, he said.

​“I can tell you that we have no specific information here at APD of anything that is set to happen at any of our polling locations or specific dates or anything like that," Chacon told reporters. "But I can certainly tell you that APD will be prepared should something like that pop up unannounced.”

He said the department will be adequately staffed from now until Election Day to ensure voters' safety.

– Jerry Quijano

6:05 p.m. — Another 8,000 people cast votes in Travis County

An hour before polls close for the day, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says 32,000 people have voted.

3:50 p.m. — Presidential and U.S. Senate races at top of mind for Austin voters

It took voters at the Northwest Recreation Center in Austin a little more than an hour to get through the line around 2 p.m. The line snaked from the entrance to the parking lot and through a small playground. Those waiting, like Cathy Ngo and her partner Tracy Giesbrecht, tried to stand in the shade of several large trees.

“It’s exciting [to vote] on the first day,” Giesbrecht, 44, said. 

The couple said that in addition to the presidential race, they were excited to vote in the U.S. Senate race, where Sen. John Cornyn will have to beat Democrat MJ Hegar to win his re-election. 

— Audrey McGlinchy

3:33 p.m. — Another 10,000 people cast votes in Travis County

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says that as of 3:30 p.m., 24,000 people have voted.

2 p.m. — Early voters try – but fail – to ‘avoid the rush’

Pulling up to the early voting site at the Virginia Brown Recreation Center was somewhat deceiving. If you were looking at the wrong door, you might have thought the line was shorter than it was. 

Around noon, people were waiting about 40 minutes to cast ballots. Brian Hennington was one of them. He said he always votes early “to make sure I play my part as soon as possible and hopefully to avoid the rush.”

“But in this instance, it doesn’t look like I avoided much,” he said.

— Samuel King

A look through the fence at people waiting in line, standing about 6 feet apart from one another.
Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT
Voters stood socially distant from one another in a line that wrapped around the field outside the South Austin Recreation Center on Tuesday morning.

12:45 p.m. – 'I couldn't even sleep last night I was so excited to be here!'

One of the longest lines this morning was at the South Austin Rec Center, where Teresa Stone met Debby McCray a little bit before 6 a.m. – in line in the dark.

At around 8:45, they'd become friends and shared the camping chair Stone brought in anticipation of a wait. They'd never voted early before today, and they were among hundreds who waited out a delay the county says was due to technical difficulties with a voting machine. They said it could be worse.

"I couldn't even sleep last night I was so excited to be here! I mean literally ... this has been like planning a vacation, you know? With the packing the bag, [thinking about] what to bring ... the chair, the battery pack," Stone said. "I had no idea how long we'd be here, but I guess I was prepared to be here as long as it took – which, all things considered, I don't think we're doing too badly."

The socially distanced line snakedaround the entire field outside the rec center, with close to 200 voters on line just after 9 a.m. McCray and other voters said that hours earlier the line had been double – that it spiraled in on itself like a nautilus. But then folks began peeling off because of the long wait.

 – Andrew Weber

12:15 p.m. – Thousands have voted in Travis County already

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir tweets that as of noon, 14,000 people have voted.

In an interview with Jennifer Stayton that aired this morning, DeBeauvoir said the county expected to see the biggest crowds today. More than 844,000 people are registered to vote in Travis County – 96% of eligible voters.

11:30 a.m. – Turnout is high at many locations this morning

Sangita Menon reports that more than 285 people are in line to vote at Austin Oaks Church in South Austin and that folks are "masked up."

10:30 a.m. – Not enough poll workers

Mose Buchele says voting at Parque Zaragoza took about an hour this morning. The bottleneck was not caused by lack of voting machines, but by too few poll workers. There were three of them working hard to process tons of people, he says. Always machines open, but not enough staff to handle crowds.

9 a.m. – Line starts moving at the South Austin Rec Center

After the technical issue was resolved, the line – which was wrapped around the field – started moving again. Andrew Weber reports the line was about double this size before 8 a.m. and that some folks didn’t want to wait and left.

8:38 a.m. – Technical issue at South Austin Rec Center resolved

The Travis County Clerk's Office said a technical issue at the South Austin Recreational Center has been resolved after problems this morning that led to long lines.

Spokesperson Victoria Hinojosa said it was not a countywide issue.

7:30 a.m. – Lines are long in East Austin

Claire McInerny stopped by polling locations in East Austin to talk with voters. She said some voters told her they had been in line at the Ruiz Branch of the Austin Public Library since 5:30 a.m. because they wanted to be the first to cast their ballots.

10:45 p.m. Monday – Voters camp out overnight to cast ballots

Teri Eubank said she was going to wait all night with her two friends outside the Southpark Meadows polling site in Austin to be among the first to vote Tuesday morning.

"You know, we stand in line for concert tickets and T-shirts, for national championship wins and all that. Why not stand in line for something this important? I just love the USA. I mean everything I own is red, white and blue: my office, flags and everything. And I love our country. This election is different and everyone knows that. Plus, I retired, I don't have nothing else to do."

"I'm thinking this is probably the most important election of my lifetime," said her friend Cindy Templer. "And we want to represent people we love and how important it is to be out to vote and you know, make our voices heard. And this is how we can do our part of being an American."

– Matt Largey

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