Early voting in FAC comparatively lower than other voting locations in Travis County

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A sign on UT’s West Mall encourages students to vote in the Flawn Academic Center. The FAC early voting location had the seventh lowest voter turnout of all 19 locations in Travis County.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

The early voting location at the Flawn Academic Center had one of the lowest voter turnouts from 19 early voting locations in Travis County so far.

As of Tuesday, 447 out of 14,600 Travis County voters cast their ballots at the FAC location. There are 19 early voting locations in Travis County for this election, six of which have numbers lower than the FAC’s voter turnout. Early voting began on Monday, Oct. 19.

According to Ginny Ballard, public information coordinator for the county clerk’s office, the 447 people who voted at the FAC are most likely part of the UT community.

“I would say that because of parking issues and other things, more than likely, it is faculty and staff voting in that location,” Ballard said. “That’s why we offer that location, so that it’s convenient for those who work on campus, live on campus and go to school on campus.”

The highest voter turnouts were 2,151 in the Randall’s Research and Braker streets early voting location and 1,403 in the Randall’s South Mopac and William Cannon streets early voting location. The lowest voter turnout was 72 in Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center.

One reason why voter turnout at the FAC early voting location is low might be because the amendments to the Texas constitution do not particularly pertain to students’ lives, said Kassie Barroquillo, graduate assistant coordinator for UT Votes — which promotes student voting. 

The ballot currently has seven propositions with one additional bond proposition that touch on topics such as residence homestead exemptions and privatization of road construction for small populated cities, among other issues.

“I think of lot of students right now don’t exactly know what’s on the ballot because this isn’t a ballot that has candidates,” Barroquillo said. “When students don’t know what they’re looking at, a lot of the time they won’t vote, and I think that’s definitely a part of it.”

Tera Sherrard, grants and contracts specialist in the Department of Psychology, said she voted in two previous elections at the FAC and said turnout then was much better than the turnout she saw when she voted this week. Sherrard said she also believes low turnout has to do with the content of the ballot.

“I voted 4:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, and there was literally nobody there,” Sherrard said. “It’s just constitutional amendments so it’s probably going to have a low voter turnout, which is unfortunate.”

Barroquillo said UT Votes is still working to get more students deputized and registered on campus, and she thinks voter turnout will be substantially higher in the presidential primary elections which will happen on March 1, 2016.

“People are more likely to vote for a person than an amendment, which is what we’re looking at in this election,” Barroquillo said. “It’s not just our efforts — I’m sure there are other student organizations that are also working right now to ramp up registration. I’m sure those two things will have a positive impact on the primary.”

People can still register to vote for the presidential primary election in March until Feb. 1, 2016. Early voting for this current election closes on Friday, and the general election is Nov. 3.