Call it a dry run for 2020.
As Williamson County election administrator Christopher Davis noted, the voter turnout for the November General Election is predictably lower than it was in 2018. That’s a good thing, considering everyone from poll workers to voters to county staff have to get used to brand new election equipment.
“It’s been a while, a decade or more, since they’ve handled paper ballots at polling locations,” he said. “We’ve had some learning curve issues but, it’s going pretty well.”
Davis’s “low turnout” comment referenced the difference between odd-numbered general elections and those held on even numbered years. Odd-year general elections typically feature only constitutional amendment elections while those occurring on even-numbered years elect governors and presidents which means voter interest is much higher.
But, as of Monday, more than 3 percent of Williamson County voters had cast a ballot.
“That’s about triple of what we had at this point in 2017,” said Davis. “Triple of 1 percent is still something.”
The 2017 election saw 5.82 percent total voter turnout. The 2015 election saw a turnout of 11.29 percent. At press time Tuesday, more than 10,000 voters had cast an early ballot in person in Williamson County.
Davis said he told Williamson County commissioners that he would be happy to see turnout in double digits and it will, if the current trend holds.
Davis said the higher than normal turnout wasn’t unexpected. “It could be because we have some local county propositions on the ballot, and maybe some 'looky-loos,' folks who want to tryout the new machines. Then again, this turnout is probably the result of increased awareness and the trends in higher turnout that we’ve seen since 2018.”
There are more than 344,000 registered voters in Williamson County, up nearly 8,000 from November 2018.
“That’s obviously just going to increase. In a sense, this is a good time for us to get new equipment,” Davis said. “This give us, and voters, a chance to become acclimated to it and for us to learn how [the paper ballot] works in a higher turnout year. And the more people we can get used to the new machines, the better. It is their vote.”
Early voting continues through Friday. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.
On the Ballot
• 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution
• Two Williamson County bond proposals including a proposal of about $35 million for parks and $415 million for new roads and improvements to existing county roads.
The Hill County News will post results for the WilCo road and park bond election as soon as results are available Tuesday evening.
Where to vote:
Williamson County voters may vote at any polling location in the county.
From the WilCo Elections archives
2017 Constitutional Amendment Election
Registered Voters - Total: 309,906
Ballots Cast - Total: 18,040
Voter Turnout: 5.82 %
2015 Constitutional Amendment Election
Registered Voters - Total: 274,227
Ballots Cast - Total: 30,959
Voter Turnout: 11.29 %