AUSTIN, Texas — After months of preparation, election officials across Central Texas are making sure Election Day goes as smoothly as possible.
In Travis County, the ballot board worked Monday to continue processing the more than 64,000 mail-in ballots it's received so far.
"We want to be able to bring you at 7 p.m. on Election Night all of the early voting results, as well as all of the by-mail results that we have in-house," Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said.
The county is expecting at least 100,000 people to cast their votes Tuesday.
"I don't think this election shows any signs of calming down," DeBeauvoir said.
That's one of the reasons the county has set up nearly 200 polling places for Election Day, including some new ones – like a yoga studio and music venue – that offer enough room for parking and social distancing.
"If we can equitably distribute our voters all throughout the 178 locations, then there shouldn't be much of a line anywhere at all," DeBeauvoir said.
Williamson County is expecting anywhere from 18,000 to 56,000 voters at the polls on Tuesday, according to Elections Administrator Chris Davis. Nearly 70% of the county's registered voters already voted early.
Like Travis County, more people voted early in Williamson County this election than voted overall in the 2016 presidential election.
"I think it was my county judge that said, 'Let's see how much ketchup is left in the bottle for tomorrow' as far as how many voters are still out there that want to vote in this election,'" Davis said.
Williamson County's ballot board is also working to process mail-in ballots so that it can include those results, along with the early voting results, in its first report when the polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Davis expects voters will be able to determine the winners of some races Tuesday night, especially where there will be a large gap between candidates.
"If there's really, really close races, even at the end of the night when we finish reporting our Election Day or Election Night results, there are still overseas mail ballots that we can accept for up to six days after [the] election. We can accept domestic mail ballots a day after the election if they're post-stamped by [Tuesday]. And there'll be thousands of provisional ballots that we're going to process that may very well count, too," he said. "If there are very, very close races by the end of [Tuesday night], I would advise any of the candidates to not pop champagne corks just right then and there because the ballots that we must process and consider timely can affect those outcomes. And we'll only know that a good six to 10 days after Election Day."
As for polling place security, Davis said there were only a few incidents at the early voting polls involving voters, like people refusing to remove their campaign-related clothing. Law enforcement was called on one occasion, but no one was arrested.
"Things have gone really, really smooth when you consider, you know, as many folks that have voted, the 240,000 to 250,000 that we've seen," he said.
DeBeauvoir said it's possible voters may hear what she calls "unpleasantness" at the polls Tuesday, but she recommends ignoring it all.
"That's all just scare tactics, so voters should just ignore all the talk. Go vote at your favorite place, something that's convenient for you and do the one thing that you can do as a voter to support your democracy. And that's get out the vote," she said.
Some reminders: you can't carry a gun when you're voting, you can't use your phone inside a polling place and you also can't campaign within 100 feet of a polling place. If you see any of this happening, alert a poll worker. You can also contact the Texas Secretary of State's office.
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