About 11% of registered voters in Travis County voted by the first two days of early voting in Texas.
That’s more than 95,000 mail-in and in-person ballots cast, which is thousands more than what had been cast at this point during the 2016 presidential election.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said she’s seeing the biggest growth among mail-in ballots.
“A little over 33,000 … by-mail ballots,” she said as of Thursday morning. “We think we are going to have a 100,000-ballot participation.”
DeBeauvoir said 33,000 is already far more mail-in ballots than she would expect for an entire presidential election.
According to data from Travis County, 74,040 votes were cast in person in the county during the first two days of early voting. In 2016, for comparison, a total of 72,364 were cast in the county during the first two days.
Mail ballots, however, are far outpacing 2016. According to county data, in 2016 Travis County voters had returned 11,293 mail ballots by the end of the second day of early voting. In the same timeframe this year, they’d returned 23,043 mail ballots.
DeBeauvoir said she thinks voting trends are being dominated by COVID-19.
“I think the pandemic concerns and the risks are absolutely driving everyone’s behavior,” she said.
DeBeauvoir said her office has added staff to keep up with the mail ballots. She said she is also planning to add “a couple more pieces of equipment” to speed things up, so they can release the count of all mail ballots that are in-house at exactly 7 p.m. on Election Day.
“We knew that the by-mail was going to be quite the tsunami,” DeBeauvoir said. “So, we are pretty confident that we are keeping up.”
DeBeauvoir also refuted claims from Republican state leaders that mail-in ballots were going to be used fraudulently during the election. She said about 86% of the requests are from voters who are over 65, which is one of the four categories of voters who are allowed to use mail-in ballots.
“When you start hearing this noise about how by-mail is fraudulent,” she said, “I want voters to understand you are talking about your next-door neighbor.”
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