Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Travis County Voter Turnout: Meh....

"He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
So that their hands cannot carry out their plans."
Job 5:12

Today's Statesman details the failure of Battleground Texas:
Despite talk of it being a historic election, Austinites are, so far, showing about the same interest in this year’s round of politics as they usually do. Early voting for the November election ends Friday. Twelve percent of Travis County voters had cast ballots by the end of Monday, almost exactly the same turnout as at this point in 2010, and within the range typically seen for a ballot headlined by a governor’s race, according to county election officials.

The lower-than-expected turnout is happening in this deep-blue city despite a Democratic gubernatorial challenger who has energized the party base and an overhaul of the city government intended to engage a greater swath of Austin — not to mention nearly $1.4 billion worth of bonds to build an urban rail line and expand Austin Community College’s offerings.

Yet at this pace, only a modest 40 percent of voters will cast a ballot by the time the polls close on Election Day, according to election officials.

“It’s remarkable how closely (this year) has been tracking” with other gubernatorial elections, said Bruce Elfant, who oversees voter registration as Travis County’s tax assessor-collector. “I didn’t expect that. I thought turnout would be higher.”

Despite a first-day surge in statewide early voting across the state, reports have turnout flagging and now at about 10 percent, where it was at this point four years ago. (The early vote totals, in Travis County and statewide, don’t include absentee ballots.)

Early voting is an important benchmark because, if recent history is any guide, more than half the votes in Travis County will be cast by the time early voting ends. Elfant and other politicos had expected more people at the ballot box because Travis County signed up 4,000 deputy voter registrars and registered 65,000 new voters this election cycle, both unusually high for an election year not headlined by a presidential contest.
It gets better:
But the city moved its election this year to November. This was partly to expand the pool of people participating in city elections. That change was combined with a new, district-based election system that is supposed to empower whole areas of town where residents have felt disenfranchised.

Supporters of the switch argued it could draw new voters to the governor’s race, even people with virtually no record of civic engagement.

This has apparently not happened. As City Council candidates have campaigned, though, some have encountered voters who weren’t aware of the change. Some knocked the city for not conducting a more aggressive informational campaign, possibly with TV and radio advertisements.
Heh, heh; our voters know!

Read the whole thing here.

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