If early voting is any indication, this year's election could be a record-breaker for turnout in Houston and Harris County. As of the end of the 12-day early voting period on Friday, 109,370 ballots were cast, including 87,944 in person. That is an all-time high for early voting in an off-year election in Harris County. Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart credits many factors for the high turnout. "The mayor's race, other individual things on the ballot like the Astrodome," he tells KTRH. "But I believe also to some degree it's the photo ID, all the media messaging that's been out there." All of that attention about this being the first general election since Texas implemented its Voter ID law may have also raised awareness of the election in general.
As for the new Voter ID law, Stanart says it was basically a non-issue throughout early voting in Harris County. "We had seven people who voted provisionally, out of 87,944." Those provisional ballots were cast by people who don't have a valid form of photo ID. However, Stanart notes that even those without a proper ID were not turned away from the polls. "They voted provisionally, and they have until six says after Election Day to bring in a photo ID so their ballot can be counted," he says. While opponents of the Voter ID law have argued that it will suppress voter turnout, it seems to have done just the opposite for this election.
Those who missed out on early voting can still cast a ballot on Election Day, this Tuesday. "On Election Day, you must vote in your voting precinct," says Stanart. And there will be plenty of those precincts fully staffed throughout the day. "We have 775 polling locations for this election, and every one of them will have five to eight people at it, so it is a small army," he says. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, but Stanart recommends going earlier in the day to avoid crowds. "If you're in line at 7 p.m. you can vote, but that's the only time you might have a little bit of a line is right at the end of the day." He hopes to see Election Day continue the strong turnout from early voting. "We're waiting for you to come vote," says Stanart.