Updated 06/09/2011 08:32 AM
Political heat in Place 3 race may prompt voter turnout
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Early voting numbers are historically low in a runoff election, but this year’s Place 3 contest seems to be bucking the system.
The race for the council seat has heated up since the general election last month, when challenger Kathie Tovo beat incumbent Randi Shade with 46 percent of the vote. Shade walked away with 33 percent.
In the recent weeks before the runoff election, new political ads, rallies and staff hires have shown both sides are playing political hardball.
Political consultant Jason Stanford has been around Texas politics for almost two decades. He says the public fight between Shade and Tovo is healthy for the public process of voting.
"Negative campaigning is good for democracy when it is done right,” he said. "These guys are doing it, they're duking it out, they're doing it on the issues and people are responding by voting more."
Monday, 3,494 Austin voters cast an early ballot. Tuesday, 3,072 folks hit the booth for a two-day total of just over 6,500 votes.
Add over 2,600 from Wednesday’s turnout, and the total count is 9,093 in just three days.
Compare that to the almost 15,000 early voters in the May general election, and it appears more voters are soon headed to the polls.
"Boring campaigns turn people off and they don't vote,” Stanford said. “For a long time campaigns have been boring in Austin, they're not any more this is great."
Early voting wraps up next Tuesday. Election Day is June 18.