Elections

Harris County officials say early voting has increased this year, compared to 2015

More than 54,000 early voters have cast ballots at the 68 early voting locations so far. The county clerk’s office said that’s a 50% increase compared to 2015 when Mayor Turner first ran for office.

Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth disusing the upcoming election during a press conference on Oct. 20, 2023.
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth discussing the upcoming election during a press conference on Oct. 20, 2023.

Early voting started on Monday in Harris County, the first election since the Harris County Administrator’s Office was dismantled. The county clerk's office said they've seen an increase in ballots that have been cast early.

More than 54,000 early voters have cast ballots at the 68 early voting locations so far. The county clerk's office said that's a 50% increase compared to 2015 when Mayor Turner first ran for office; 36.3K voted in person during the same time. The mayoral race is packed with seventeen candidates, along with other open seats for Controller and City Council positions.

"We see an interest in this election, voters are getting out and they’re getting out during the early voting period," said Harris County Clerk Tenesha Hudspeth. “I think people are finally getting the messaging around early voting: you can go anywhere on election day too. But, there are so many locations now that you can choose from 68 voting locations, and voters are getting used to getting it done and getting it out of the way and not waiting until Election Day."

The ballot is also filled with a number of city and statewide propositions that range from funding for state parks and high-speed internet access to tax exemptions, which Hudspeth said is of interest to many voters.

The Harris County elections have had recent issues, including running out of ballot paper and polling locations opening late during last year’s midterm elections. Hudspeth said they're being more cautious this year.

"We made sure number one that we have plenty of locations, we tested all the equipment, we’ve increased our allocation to make sure that we have what we need and we have doubled the amount of staff," she said. "We even have hired election techs that are just helping with any concerns in terms of equipment, and paper and things of that nature. What we did was simply make sure that our early voting sites are supported from the front end to the very end of each day."

Hudspeth said early voting has gone smoothly and they’re expecting that number of early voters to increase.

"In the next week or so we do expect early voting to pick-up because voters will know it’s the last week to get [it] done," she said. "It’ll be great to come back and sort of talk about what we’re seeing in numbers. Did they rise? And why do we believe those numbers are rising?"

Early voting is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and runs through November 3. Election day is November 7.