Elections

Early voting for Houston’s runoff election concludes Tuesday. Here’s what to know.

More than 224,000 ballots had been cast during the early voting period for the Nov. 7 election.

Houston election 2023
Dominic Anthony Walsh
Voters stand in line to vote at the West Gray Multiservice Center Tuesday

Tuesday is the last day to early vote ahead of Houston’s joint runoff election on Dec. 9 that’ll determine the fourth largest city’s newest leader.

On Monday, 96,000 ballots had been cast since the start of early voting for the runoff election, according to Harris County Elections Department. Harris County has about 2.6 million registered voters.

On Saturday, State Sen. John Whitmire and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee will vie for Houston’s mayoral seat. Seven city council member races including four at-large races, and a race for city controller will also be determined on election day.

Early voter turnout for the runoff election was off to a slow start, Teneshia Hudspeth, Harris County Clerk said. The county opened up 41 polling locations on Nov. 27 for people to cast runoff election ballots. 2,100 ballots had been cast by the end of the first day of early voting.

“This election is just as important as the November election,” she said during a press conference Nov. 27.

Voter turnout in runoff elections over the years have seen a significant decline, according to a 2022 report from Fair Vote, a nonpartisan organization, that analyzed voter turnout for runoff elections in 10 states.

Of 276 elections analyzed in the report, 86 showed runoff candidates that had likely trailed in primary elections had the broadest support in their states or districts, but would not have been nominated under plurality voting. Although runoffs aim to achieve the important goal of picking winners with broad support, the big declines in turnout often undermine that goal, according to Fair Vote.

Early voting numbers for the Dec. 9 runoff election started out bleak, but officials saw a 50 percent increase in early voting turnout for the Nov. 7 election compared to the 2015 mayoral elections.

More than 224,000 ballots had been cast during the early voting period for the Nov. 7 election.

41 voting locations for the runoff election will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and on election day. A map of early voting locations can be found on the Harris Votes website. Sample ballots in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese can be downloaded on the city’s website.

Here’s what Houstonians will see on their ballots for the runoff election.

City controller – Former Harris County treasurer Orlando Sanchez against former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins

District D – Incumbent Carolyn Evans-Shabazz against Travis McGee

District G – Incumbent Mary Nan Huffman against Houston attorney Tony Buzbee

District H – Mario Castillo against Cynthia Reyes Revilla

At-large position 1 – Julian Ramirez against Melanie Miles

At-large position 2 – Willie Davis against Nick Hellyar

At-large position 3 – Richard Cantu against Twila Carter

At-large position 4 – Incumbent Letitia Plummer against Roy Morales

Voters will need to bring one of the seven valid forms of photo ID with them to the voting booth. Driver’s licenses, election identification certificates, personal identification cards and handgun licenses are all valid forms of identification.