December 04, 2005
Lonely times at the early voting locations

To the surprise of no one, business has been slow at the early voting locations so far.

Turnout for Saturday's six runoff elections probably will be about 10 percent of registered voters, election officials say.

Reasons include holiday distractions, low voter interest in the races and the fact that all but one of the contests are limited to specific districts within Harris County.

Early voting started Wednesday and runs through Tuesday.

On the first day, only 918 people showed up at the polls. First-day voting was much heavier in the 2001 and 2003 runoffs, which decided races for Houston mayor.

"Turnout is going to be very light," said David Beirne, a spokesman for Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, the county's chief elections official.

"There's not a mayor's race or proposition driving people to vote," he said. "By the runoff, people think the thing is already decided or their candidate is no longer in it, so they decide to stay home."


It was a "slow, slow" day at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, traditionally one of the most popular early voting locations, when voting began there Wednesday, said site supervisor Lee Parsley.

Only 116 people showed up, and the longest line they had all day was two people deep, Parsley said.

"They don't have much to vote for," Parsley said. "They come in fast, and they leave fast. We're happy to get anyone to come in. It's a low-key, runoff race."

We did our civic duty at the MMSC this afternoon around 4 PM. No waiting in line, and only two campaigns (Aiyer and Hittner) had volunteers present in the parking lot. Tomorrow and Tuesday are your last chances until the general on Saturday. As a reminder, here are the locations and hours.

As long as there's not much news to discuss for the runoff, here's an essay question to ponder: Why don't we extend the early-voting concept of "voting centers" to Election Day itself, as they're thinking about doing in Denver? The fact that we have them for early voting is proof that we don't need a polling place in every precinct, though of course we'd need more voting centers on Election Day itself than we have during early voting, especially when turnout is expected to be heavy. I realize there are reasons practical and sentimental to keep many traditional neighborhood polling places, but I submit that voting centers make it harder to practice certain types of voter intimidation (since you can't say with nearly as much certainty who's showing up at a given center) and also eliminates challenging votes for being cast in the wrong precinct (as we saw in the Heflin/Vo challenge). I believe that these two benefits would outweigh those objections. But, since it's an essay question, what do you think?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 04, 2005 to Election 2005 | TrackBack

Travis County is quite possibly going to take advantage of this next year for the 06 elections. I've talked with some key Austin people who thing we can get the commissioner's court to approve it. It should help our Democrats turnout to boost a couple points county wide.

Posted by: Karl-T on December 4, 2005 7:20 PM