GOTV effort by AI leaders seeks to reverse typically low turnout

So Far, Another Sleepy Austin Election May 7, 2011 4:16 pm by: Erika Aguilar Austin voters have showed little interest in early voting so far this year, says Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir. She says less than two percent of registered voters in Travis County have cast ballots for the Austin City Council Elections. “We’ve only had a little more than six thousand people go in person to early vote,” DeBeauvoir said. “That is really, pretty low.” DeBeauvoir is quick to remind people that there are still a few days left in early voting. The deadline is Tuesday. The meager turnout is motivating community members with Austin Interfaith to hit the streets. This weekend the group block-walked in East Austin neighborhoods to remind people to vote. Minerva Camarena Skeith knocked on apartment doors at the Booker T. Washington complex in East Austin. “There are a lot of people who are registered, it’s concentrated, and we can go very quickly,” she said. Travis County’s DeBeauvoir says low voter turnout is usually the norm in City Council elections, especially when there is no Mayor’s race or hot-button initiative on the ballot. ” I think the highest percentage turnout we’ve had is about 13 percent, here, in the most recent years,” DeBeauvoir said. It was the smoking ordinance proposed in the May of 2005 that drew out that modest crowd of voters. DeBeauvoir said she believes people just haven’t gotten around to voting yet. But Minerva Camarena Skeith says some are just confused. “Part of us coming out here walking to encourage people to vote is that you’ll hear these misconceptions and myths about voting or why people don’t vote, and we can both educate but also encourage and make sure there is a purpose for voting,” Camarena Skeith said. Take Janice Bell. She hasn’t voted in five years because she thought she had to register to vote every year in order to cast a ballot. “Ohh, (people are) probably like me. Thinking you have to register every year or if you done change your address, you have to go through a lot more difficulties, you know, so it’s probably just the change,” she said. Whatever the reason, you still have until Tuesday to make your choice. Just take your driver’s license with to any polling center in town. But on Election Day, Saturday, May 14, voters will need to report to their assigned precinct to vote. eaguilar@kut.org