Constable’s Notebook – October 2008
By Constable Bruce Elfant
Based on huge voter turnouts in the presidential primaries, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir expects that the voter turnout on November 4 will “surpass anything we have seen before.” The 2008 presidential election certainly has been one of the most interesting, historic and closely followed campaigns in modern times. A weak economy, 2 wars, the first serious female presidential candidate, first female vice presidential nominee and the first African American presidential nominee has generated more interest in the outcome than at any time in the last 40 years. Historically only about half of registered voters have bothered to vote in U. S. presidential elections. It has been 40 years since a presidential election attracted even 6 in 10 registered voters, which is lower than almost any other industrialized democracy.
The County Clerk is betting that 2008 will be different and hopes that most people will take advantage of more early voting locations (including 2 mega voting locations) and longer hours of operation than ever before. During the early voting period which runs from Monday October 20 through Friday October 31, voters can vote at any early voting location as opposed to election-day where voters must vote at their polling place. Voters over 65, disabled voters and those who will be out of Travis County for the entire voting period may vote by mail and can obtain mail ballot applications at the Travis County Clerk’s office at 5501 Airport, 854-4996 or at www.traviscountyelections.org. Mail ballot applications must be received in the Travis County Clerk’s office by October 28.
Citizens wishing to register to vote or change their voter address may do so until midnight October 6. Voter registration cards are available at the Travis County Tax Assessor Collector’s Office, all public libraries or may be downloaded at www.traviscountytax.org. Both major political party volunteers and other organizations are also working hard to register voters by going door to door and working voter registration booths at many public events and businesses.
Since it takes more than 2,400 election poll workers to conduct an efficient election that minimizes lines, anyone interested in being an election worker during the early voting period and on election day and through election night is encouraged to contact the County Clerk’s Office (see above contact information).
Four years ago approximately 65% of Travis County voters cast their votes, more than any other Texas county and significantly above the national average. This year it is expected that Travis County voters will once again lead Texas and the nation. Voting is a right that many if not most people around the world do not enjoy and a responsibility that citizens of free nations must exercise in order to remain free. President John F. Kennedy once remarked that “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” That could not be more true today. See you at the polls.