5:30 p.m. update: The number of Williamson County residents hitting the polls Monday for the first day of early voting has surpassed the number of people who voted the first day of early voting in the 2012 presidential election.
The Williamson County Elections Department reported 14,705 people have voted as of 5 p.m. compared to a total turnout of 9,223 voters on the first day of early voting in November 2012.
“They eclipsed it about 1 p.m. today,” County Elections Administrator Christopher Davis said of the numbers. “It’s a record for the first day of early voting in Williamson County.”
Davis said the first day of early voting and Election Day normally have the heaviest traffic. He recommended people take advantage of early voting through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 8.
“If they have an opportunity to get their vote in, they won’t have to battle those long lines we’ll have all (Election) Day,” Davis said.
Voters posted on Facebook their trips to one of about a dozen early voting polling locations in Williamson County, which will remain open through 7 p.m. today and reopen 7 a.m. Tuesday. After voting in Georgetown, Dave Sullivan posted on the Williamson County Elections Department Facebook page about his time in Iraq where “people would go to voting stations and literally blow themselves up” to thwart voter turnout.
“Hey, I get it, it’s your right to vote or not,” he wrote, “but please realize that people are still being persecuted and dying for their right to vote.”
Other posts show both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters are making their way to polls. Brian VanDerwerken wrote on the page, “1 vote for Trump in the books,” while Dina Yvonne Grayson wrote, “This nasty woman just voted! Yeah baby!!”
5 p.m. update: The Texas Secretary of State’s Office confirmed polling places are busy statewide and suggested it’s hard to know if that indicates election excitement — or just a desire to get it done.
“We are hearing about a lot of busy polling places,” spokeswoman Alicia Phillips Pierce said in an email. “This might be a reflection of a pent-up desire for voters to finally cast their ballots, or it might be indicative of the beginning of a high-turnout election. It’s impossible to say right now.”
4:30 p.m. update: Bastrop County has shattered its record for highest turn out in the first day of early voting with more than 2,300 people casting a ballot as of 4:30 p.m.
The county’s record was set in 2012, when 1,484 voters cast a ballot on the first day of early voting. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign led the ballot.
Just before 4:30 p.m., 2,369 Bastrop County voters had voted at the county’s four polling locations.
Bastrop County Elections Administrator Bridgette Escobedo said voting has been smooth at all locations with long lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots.
In the 2008 presidential election, 1,049 voters cast a ballot on the first day of early voting. Bastrop County only had one polling location at the time.
4 p.m. update: Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan said at 3:30 p.m. that voting numbers were climbing above the first-day total from 2012 of about 3,500. Waiting times at polling stations throughout Hays County ranged from 15 to 30 minutes.
“It’s the highest first day voting that I can ever remember,” she said.
Voters reported high turnout statewide, with many sharing photos of polling station lines and reporting waits of an hour or longer to cast a ballot. Many shared their experiences with the hashtag #TexasVotes2016.
3 p.m. update: Within hours of polling sites opening Monday, more than 5,500 people in Williamson County cast their ballots on the first day of early voting.
According to the Williamson County Elections Department, 5,519 people voted as of 11:30 a.m. A frequently updated map at wilco.org/votinglinetimes shows polling locations and wait times for each open location. Randalls grocery store on Gattis School Road in Round Rock, Cowan Creek Amenity Center in Georgetown and Clairmont Retirement Community Center on Los Indios Trail in Austin have received particularly heavy traffic, according to the map, with wait times up to 45 minutes as of 2:40 p.m.
County communications specialist Kathy Wysong said county elections staff are reporting wait times to the elections department and then posting them on the site, giving real-time data within about a half-hour. She said there are no reported issues with the polls.
There are more than a dozen Williamson County polling locations open until 5 p.m. today. The locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov. 4. (Open hours for the locations on Sunday is noon to 6 p.m.)
On Tuesday, mobile teams will be at St. Peter’s Church in Coupland (108 Wathen St.) and the Andice Community Center in Florence (6600 FM 970).
To see posts directly from Williamson County Elections, like their page on Facebook, fb.com/wilcoelections.
Earlier: The first hours of early voting for the Nov. 8 election drew heavy traffic, observers and county staff said Monday.
About 10,000 people in Travis County had cast a ballot by 11 a.m. Monday, according to the Travis County Elections Office. The office is expecting to see 30,000 people total by the end of the day — roughly double the number who voted the first day of early voting in 2012.
Several locations had lines, but elections administrators said they were aware of no problems. Early voting runs through Nov. 4.
In Hays County, officials said there had been confusion over whether the Hays County Precinct 2 office was open. It is closed for some administration functions, but open for early voting.
Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan said lines to vote were the longest she’d ever seen for the first day of early voting.
The Travis County elections office website was briefly unavailable mid-morning Monday. Staff said heavy traffic led web administrators to make some changes to the site.
Several voters and observers commented on turnout via social media: