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Live Updates: Texans Head To The Polls On Election Day

Voters cast ballots at the Arbor Walk Shopping Center in North Austin.
Julia Reihs
Voters cast ballots at the Arbor Walk Shopping Center in North Austin.

Today is Election Day! In addition to the presidential election, Texans will vote for a U.S. senator and weigh in on a number of local races, includingfive seats on the Austin City Counciland a new property tax to pay for a massive transit proposal.

We've put together guides for Travis County voters here, Williamson County voters here and Hays County voters here.  You'll find other resources about where to vote and how your vote will be counted here

Polls are open until 7 p.m. Voters in line when polls close will still be allowed to cast ballots. Our reporters will be sharing updates on what they see and hear throughout the day. Check back for updates.

6:30 p.m. — Hays County sees short lines as closing time nears

About an hour before the polls closed, not many people were present at the Hays County Government Center in San Marcos, except for campaigners scattered outside the center’s entrance. 

Bernard Meuer was on his way out when another voter approached him and asked him how long the lines were.

“No wait at all,” he replied. “Not as long as last time.”  

The last time for Meuer was two years ago, during the 2018 midterm elections. He said he came to the center at the same time, and waited almost an hour to vote. 

“But this time, there was no wait at all,” he said. “There was no one in front of me at all. And everything went smooth.” 

Meuer figured that the lack of a wait time had something to do with the record-breaking turnout during early voting. 

“I'm glad there is such a big turnout, even if it was early voters this year,” Meuer said. “I think it'll show a big difference for how much power people actually have by their vote.”  

— Riane Roldan

5 p.m. — 42,000 Travis County residents cast ballots

About 42,000 residents have cast a ballot on Election Day, the Travis County Clerk tweeted just after 4:30 p.m.

Polls close at 7 p.m., but those in line by then will still be able to vote after they close. Mail-in ballots, which Travis County residents can hand deliver at 5501 Airport Boulevard, can't be dropped off after 7 p.m., though, the clerk says. 

4:40 p.m. — Short lines continue through the afternoon

Mid-afternoon on Election Day, the scene at Virginia Brown Recreation Center looked much different than it did on the first day of early voting three weeks ago. Then, there were long lines of voters. Today, observers and volunteers outside the polling site near U.S. 183 reported few lines and few problems.

“I was here at 7, and there was a line that was about half-hour long,” said Kris Rabb, who is working with the Election Protection Project. “As soon as that was done, it was a trickle, a steady trickle.”

Rabb thinks the strong turnout during early voting has led to fewer crowds today. 

“I’m on a Slack channel with people all over the city, and this is exactly what they were reporting: a line in the morning but no surge during lunch,” Rabb said. “We’ll see if there’s an after-work surge.”

But at least one first-time voter showed up. Rabb directed her about 100 feet to the entrance, where she became one of the roughly 200 voters that had cast ballots at the recreation center by 4 p.m.

— Samuel King

4 p.m. — Voters trickle in to empty schools to cast a ballot on Election Day, which Austin ISD deemed a student holiday

The scene at Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Southwest Austin was pretty calm around 1:30 this afternoon. It was likely made quieter by the fact that Austin Independent School District has made Election Day a student holiday to help ensure smaller crowds at campuses being used as polling sites during the pandemic.

Voters slowly trickled in to cast their ballot. One of them was Ty Thompson. He said he felt more compelled to vote after being a part of the recent protests for racial justice in Austin. 

“For my first time going out to protest and hearing how people vocalized [that] if I was out there protesting that I should be voting, and that stuck clearly to me,” Thompson said. “I understood at that point that it’d be very hypocritical to be out there protesting and not making a difference within the office. So, I wanted to learn from that experience.” 

Brittany Bailey was another voter at Pleasant Hill Elementary. She said she doesn’t usually vote, but this election brought her out. 

“I haven’t voted since high school, which is almost 20 years ago,” she said. “So, this will be another vote where I felt like I needed to go ahead and start stepping up.” 

— Nadia Hamdan

3:40 p.m. — Local sells T-shirts encouraging people to vote

Credit Mose Buchele / KUT
Carment Kiara sells T-shirts that say "Vote" near a Travis County polling location.

Near the Carver Branch Library polling place, Carment Kiara is selling "Vote" T-shirts to raise money for his track club.

He says he wishes he had come out during early voting when lines stretched down the block. 

"The goal was to either be here until 7 or sell all my shirts," Kiara said. "I'll be here until 7." 

— Mose Buchele

12:28 p.m. — Poll worker says she volunteered because it's "time for young people to step up"

Polls opened promptly at 7 a.m. at the Austin Central Library and the line remained light — a 7-10 minute wait — for most of the morning. 

Voters waited under a canopy, on the east side of the building. One of the clerks, Jamie Bernat, was directing them to ensure that everybody was keeping social distance. "This is my first time helping at the polls so I was very excited this morning," she said. The 26-year-old said she signed up to work at a voting center "because I think it's time for younger people to step up, particularly because of the pandemic."

Poll worker Jamie Bernat outside the Austin Central Library polling place on Election Day 2020.
Credit Teresa Frontado / KUT
Poll worker Jamie Bernat outside the Austin Central Library polling place on Election Day 2020.

Dan Van Massey finished voting around 9 a.m. and said the process was "very smooth." 

"They offered PPE when you entered, everyone was masked, they were very good about minimizing human interaction. I tried to use a machine that wasn't wiped out and they redirected me, which I thought was very considerate," he said. 

Voters waiting in line at this location have access to something that other places might not offer: coffee. Kayla French and her colleague, Keyla Chance — both employees from The Cookbook, the library café — were working a little wood booth with pastries and beverages. "Lots of coffee, lots of cold brews and lots of pastries for the kids," said French when asked what was selling best during election time. 

— Teresa Frontado

11:23 a.m. — About 21,000 voters have cast ballots on Election Day in Travis County so far

Following a record 553,290 voters casting ballots by mail and in-person during early voting, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says "Election Day shows no sign of slowing down."

The county has seen around 21,000 voters as of 11 a.m. on Election Day. DeBeauvoir says Travis County is seeing about 6,000 voters an hour. At that rate, we could see another 72,000 voters cast ballots on Election Day, she said in a Facebook Live this morning.

DeBeauvoir said those who have chosen to vote by mail can instead hand deliver their ballot to the clerk's office at 5501 Airport Blvd. in Austin until 7 tonight. 

“Now at 7 p.m., that’s a hard close. You can’t just be in line at 7 p.m., you have to already have it delivered,” DeBeauvoir said, noting the difference with a polling place, where you are guaranteed to be able to vote if you’re in line by 7 p.m.

10:39 a.m. — Short lines (or in some cases no lines) at Travis County polling places

No one's in line at some Travis County polling locations this morning. The county's wait time map shows most polling places have somewhere between a 0- and 20-minute wait.

This morning was very slow at the Pan Am Center in East Austin. A woman holding a sign for a local school board race says she’s only seen about a dozen people in and out. Several people speculated whether most had voted early.

Voter Hayden Vestal told KUT's Mose Buchele the calm stood in sharp contrast to the anxiety surrounding this year’s election.

8:51 a.m. — Mayor Adler reminds everyone to be patient while awaiting results

If you're voting on Election Day, don't let long lines discourage you, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement emailed this morning. 

"While it’s possible that we might know outright who has won in each race by tonight, we could also potentially end the night with an unclear winner in the Presidential race," Adler said. "By law, the states have 30 days to count ballots. Stay patient, and listen to trusted sources for election information."

7:29 a.m. — Short lines when the polls opened are now getting longer

More than 45 people were in line to vote at Circle C Community Center in South Austin about 30 minutes after the voting location opened. KUT's Sangita Menon says everyone is wearing a mask – and a jacket.

At Southpark Meadows Shopping Center, also in South Austin, KUT's Jimmy Maas says at first the line  to vote was short, but now it's wrapped around the building.

7:13 a.m. — Some Congress Avenue businesses board up storefronts

Storefronts across the country have been boarded up with plywood panels ahead of Election Day — out of an "abundance of caution," NPR reports.

Some businesses along Congress Avenue in downtown Austin were boarded up Monday afternoon.

"It's an eerie sight in a country built on the idea of a peaceful transition of power," NPR correspondent Alina Selyukh says. "In fact, that kind of signal is exactly why city authorities have generally advised business owners not to board up, promising stepped-up security measures."

Read more from NPR.

7 a.m. – What’s at stake in 2020? Central Texans share why they’re voting.

Credit KUT

Leading up to Election Day, KUT asked Central Texans what’s driving them to vote. They talked about the COVID-19 pandemic, transportation access, civil rights, education, health care and more.

Read and listen to six voters’ stories here.

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