Early voting in person for this election cycle runs through October 29th. Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman says this is the only time you can vote outside your voting precinct.
“That’s correct. Thirty-seven early voting locations in Harris County open promptly at 8:00 this morning, and will stay open until 4:30 each afternoon through Friday. Early voting will be available 7 to 7 on Saturday, 1 to 6 on Sunday, and 7 to 7 every day next week.”
Considering the unforeseen catastrophe when all of the county’s election equipment was destroyed in a warehouse fire almost two months ago, Kaufman says the election infrastructure is as normal as it can be. Besides the governor’s
race and organizational considerations by the political parties, Kaufman says other items on the ballot are just as important.
“We have things at the bottom of the ballot that are not partisan, that won’t be impacted by a straight party vote, that the voter needs to look for. Nineteen different entities have items on the ballot, including city charter amendments. There are school district races across the county, there are bond elections, there are other city charter amendments. Many, many voters are going to see their ballot include items beyond the general election ballot.”
This is the election which will decide the redistricting lines for the next 10 years. The results will determine who draws the lines in Houston, Harris County and the state legislature.
In the past, Republicans took advantage of early voting but that changed two years ago, when Democrats came out in droves to send Barack Obama to the White House. Gerry Birnberg chairs the Harris County Democratic Party.
“We had better than 50-percent of the vote in 2008 cast in the early vote. Now, early vote is something which has become increasingly popular. Ten years ago, it was maybe 20 percent of the vote. This year we’re expecting probably as much as 60-percent of vote will be early vote.”
Birnberg says local Democrats will be doing their part to send former Houston Mayor Bill White to the governor’s mansion. Of course, there are two sides to every story. Jared Woodfill is chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.
“The level of intensity and enthusiasm that you’re seeing across our ranks is something that I’ve never seen before. And from a party chair perspective, that’s exciting, that’s encouraging, because we’re only as strong as the grass roots army we can build to get Republicans elected. And I have to tell you, this election cycle, the intensity level is higher than its ever been. It rivals 1994 or better.”
History tells us that off-year elections are never kind to the president’s party.