For early voting, that is.
KHOU reported this morning that 2016 will yield a bumper crop of votes in Harris County:
More than 90,000 mail-in ballots and counting have already been sent to eligible Harris County voters.
“We’ve got hundreds of them coming in right now,” said Stan Stanart, Harris County Clerk. ” It’s going to go well over 100,000.”
This is an all-time high for the county and the clerk said it is due to aging baby boomers who, for the first time, only have to fill out one application to get all of this year’s ballots mailed to them.
The number of people with Hispanic last names that registered to vote in 2016 is at an all-time high. More than 200,000 voters with Spanish last names have signed up to vote since the last Presidential election, according to voter rolls and Census data crunched by KHOU 11.
In Harris County, about a quarter of voters with 2016 effective dates now have Hispanic last names.
$64,000 $915,729,293 question?
How will Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, who counts votes so slowly that sea level rise could soon be a real threat to his completing the task on time, handle what very well could be record-setting turn-out?
Harris County will open 46 early voting locations, 4 more than were available during the primary, starting Monday, October 24th, and will keep them open an hour and a half longer than in prior years during the first week of early voting, closing at 6pm on October 24-29 instead of 4:30pm.
The second and final week of early voting, Monday, October 31st through Friday, November 4th, will run the usual 7am to 7pm. After the 4th, election day on November 8th is the last chance to cast a ballot.
While 8am to 6pm might still exclude some people, it is true that we have seven and a half more hours of poll access, and four additional sites to boot.
Stanart should not get too much credit for giving citizens the opportunity to exercise their right to vote with expanded hours.
Travis County and Dallas County win the prize, keeping it simple with 7am to 7pm hours (except on Sunday, which runs noon to 6pm) throughout the early voting period. Bexar County opens later, but stays open later on many days, also offering more opportunities to vote.
By the way, did you note that Stanart attributed the increase in baby boom vote-by-mail to the fact that his office made it easier for people to get those ballots? In Harris County, the baby boom voters are overwhelmingly white and Republican.
This is why it matters who you elect as your county clerk!
One of those sites is inside the 610 Loop, the SPJST Lodge #88 in the Heights. The lodge’s neighborhood is likely to go for Clinton. The other locations, in suburban Houston or areas that are in the county but outside of Houston city limits, lean Republican. Whether that means they lean Trump is a slightly different question—probably, but the numbers will tell.
Houstonians and residents of Harris County would do well to vote early, both to avoid lines on election day and to give election junkies something to obsess about as they plot where turnout numbers are higher or lower than usual.
Visit Harris Votes.org for hours and early voting locations in Harris County, or check your own county’s election site for that information.