Early Austin voters approve most constitutional amendments, reject local propositions

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People wait in line to vote at the Flawn Academic Center on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. City officials reported only 15% of Travis County residents may have voted in the 2019 general election.

Photo Credit: Jack Myer | Daily Texan Staff

Early voting totals showed Travis County voters are for nearly all the constitutional amendments on the ballot but against the two local propositions. 

Austin residents voted on two city proposals and ten amendments to the Texas Constitution, including Austin Convention Center additions, income tax protections and increased funding for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. According to the Travis County Clerk Twitter account, more than 68,000 people voted in the county as of 6:45 p.m. 

The majority of local early voters did not vote favorably for statewide Propositions 4 and 9 and citywide Propositions A and B, according to early voting results on the clerk’s website. As of press time, final election day results were not available.

Proposition 4 received 42.5% of the early vote and would make it more difficult for state legislators to enact an individual income tax. Proposition 9 received 33% of the early vote and would allow state legislators to create a property tax exemption for precious metals found in state depositories. 

 

Proposition A received 35.5% of the early vote and would require voters and a supermajority of the Austin City Council for the use of city-owned land for sports and entertainment facilities. Proposition B received 42.7% of the early vote and would require voter approval for certain Austin Convention Center additions and limit hotel tax revenue used for the improvements.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said around 800,000 residents in Travis County are eligible to vote, but she was expecting 15% to make it to the polls during Tuesday’s general election. The expected 15% turnout would reflect a 2% increase from 2017’s constitutional amendment elections.

DeBeauvoir said this election was the first time Travis County residents could use new voting systems, which are multilingual and have touch screens to increase voter accessibility.

“I am thrilled with the public response to the new voting system,” DeBeauvoir said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing more of our neighbors at vote centers throughout the rest of the day.”

On Election Day, Travis County voters were able to vote at any of the 155 locations offered by the county, including an on-campus location at the Flawn Academic Center. TX Votes President Anthony Zhang said lower turnout for local elections is always expected.

“It’s probably not a pretty thing to say, but if I’m being completely real here, the local elections are inevitably going to have a lower turnout,” chemistry junior Zhang said. “But, it’s important to vote in these elections because all of these local (proposals) are going to personally affect you to a greater extent, as opposed to national elections.”

Zhang said the organization offers multiple incentives to encourage voting, such as including students in a game that predicts which proposals would pass and giving out white roses to voters on Tuesday. 

Interpersonal communications freshman Sampreeti Bingi said outreach by student organizations made her feel compelled to vote.

“This is my first time being able to impact the place I’m living in, and I want to be able to make meaningful change,” Bingi said. “Before coming to UT I didn’t know too much about voting, but since coming here, I’ve made friends who help me get informed and encourage me to go to the polls.”