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Keep runoffs on Saturday

Put me on record as opposing this.


A Houston City Council committee [Tuesday] recommended keeping the city’s run-off election day on a Saturday. But committee members remained open for the possibility of changing it to a Tuesday in the future.

City Attorney David Feldman says the city first started discussing the topic in March. The reason: Holding elections during the week is cheaper.

“That expense arises from the fact that we use facilities, such as school buildings, where we are charged when those facilities are used on Saturdays but not charged when they are used during the week.”

Besides the question of cost, another important issue would be how moving the day would affect voter turnout. To learn more about that, the committee invited political science Prof. Bob Stein of Rice University.


Council member C.O. Bradford, who chaired the committee meeting, noted that moving the runoff election to Tuesday would save money and accommodate the majority of voters.

However, several council members expressed concern about recommending the change for this November’s election, because it would cut the early voting period short by two days, at least in this election cycle.

This is District J council member Mike Laster.

“My particular concern in this election cycle for 2013 is that we would be actually losing the Saturday and Sunday of early vote period, which has historically been a very high turnout two days of early vote.”

In the end, the committee decided not to recommend a change, and a spokeswoman for Annise Parker says the mayor won’t move the runoff election day this year.

C.O. Bradford says the city still needs to hear from actual voters, not just potential ones.

Prof. Stein’s polling showed majority support for the idea, but they didn’t ask me. I agree with CM Laster that moving runoffs to Tuesdays, which would mean moving early voting from Thursday through Wednesday to Monday through Friday, is the wrong thing to do. I get the desire to save money, but this is not a good way to do it. The cost of running elections in the city is a drop in the bucket, budget-wise. This change is not worth the pennies we’d pick up. Stace and Campos have more.

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