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Working all day? Travis County will let you vote until 9 p.m. on certain days during early voting

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Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
/
KUT

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Since the Texas Legislature passed laws prohibiting 24-hour and drive-thru voting, Travis County officials have been worried about voter turnout for the November election.

"They've shrunk the period of time that people can actually go vote early," Precinct 4 Commissioner Margaret Gómez said Tuesday during Commissioners Court. “In their zeal to make it harder to vote, what has the Legislature done?"

On Tuesday, Travis County commissioners approved new voting hours during early voting, which starts Oct. 24 and runs through Nov. 4. Regular voting hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. But now people will be able to vote at the so-called voting "megacenters" until 9 p.m. on the Saturday, Oct. 29, and on the last day of early voting.

The clerk’s office said extending the hours will cost an additional $2,115, bringing the county’s total budget for this election to $11,185.

The extended hours apply only to the five megacenters.

The commissioners also voted Tuesday to increase the pay for election workers to $20 an hour. County Judge Andy Brown announced a county-wide employee wage increase to $20 an hour earlier this month, but it didn't apply to contract workers like election employees.

At their meeting, commissioners also expressed concerned for the safety of election workers.

The county clerk’s office is now requiring election workers to undergo a “de-escalation training." The county said it also plans to increase security on days with extended voting hours.

“I want to make sure that we are thoughtful about the people that we put in harm's way,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Travillion said. “Because what I see on TV every single day, from Jan. 6 to today, is people who want to disrupt and in some instances, threaten, violence. And if they threaten violence and bring guns, I want to make sure that our people are protected. And that we are cognizant that this discussion is happening all around us. And we should not take it lightly.”

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at hpanjwani@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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