Harris County officials: Early voting for December runoff elections off to slow start

Early voting is from Nov. 27 to Dec. 5, and voters in Houston, Bellaire and Baytown are eligible to vote during this election.

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.

Early voting began Monday for Houston's runoff elections on December 9. Voters will choose half of Houston's government elected officials, which include the next Houston mayor, city controller, and seven city council seats.

Harris County opened 41 early voting locations at 7 a.m. and there haven't been any hiccups so far compared to previous elections. But, the Harris County Clerk's Office said the turnout has been low.

"It's kind of a slow start but I think people are still trying to digest turkey and all the things they had during Thanksgiving," said Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth.

As of Monday morning, over 2,100 ballots have been cast. During the November 7 early voting elections period, Harris County officials saw a 50% increase in early voting turnout compared to the 2015 mayoral elections.

"This is really important," Hudspeth said. "That means the mayor of the City of Houston, the mayor of Bellaire, and many city council members, including the City Controller. So this election is just as important as the November election."

Only registered voters from Houston, Bellaire and Baytown are eligible to vote during the election runoff. Almost 18,000 mail-in ballots have been mailed to voters who are eligible to vote by mail. The deadline to submit an application to vote by mail is Tuesday, November 28.

Hudspeth said they're remaining optimistic about the early voting turnout. "It's sort of a short, small run this morning, but we expect voting to pick up over the course of the nine days."

Voters will need to bring one of the seven valid forms of photo ID with them to the voting booth. Texas IDs such as driver's licenses, election identification certificates, personal identification cards, and handgun licenses, are all valid forms of identification.

A U.S. military identification card, U.S. citizenship certificate, or a U.S. passport are also considered acceptable forms of identification.

In case you do not have a valid photo ID, you might be able to fill out a reasonable impediment form and show supporting documents such as a voter registration certificate, credited U.S. birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check to any other government document showing your name or address, Hudspeth said.

Voters can access sample ballots to take a look at what their ballots would look like at Harris County Votes.

"The sample ballot can also be printed and taken into the polling location with you. So again, printed materials are allowed – not your cell phone devices, iPads or electronic devices – but the printed documents, even the postcards that the candidates give to you outside of the polling location," she said.

Early voting is from Nov. 27 to Dec. 5. The voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, with the exception of Dec. 3, when it will open at noon instead. Election day is December 9.