If you haven't voted early yet in Harris County, prepare for a wait. It's much heavier this week than last.
People are lining up to vote early in record numbers throughout Harris County, reinforcing predictions of a high turnout by the time voting is over on Election Day.
On Tuesday, with three days of early voting left, Harris County surpassed its total early vote for 2000, as the total for this year hit 240,846.
County Clerk Beverly Kaufman said she expects that 400,000 people will vote in person by the end of early voting Friday. Another 50,000 are expected to send mail-in ballots.
She predicts in-person early voting will be about a third of the total vote, as it has been in recent elections.
That would bring the total turnout out to 1.2 million of the record 1.9 million registered voters in Harris County, Kaufman projects, a turnout of more than 60 percent.
All during the week of October 18, early voting at the West Gray Multi-Service Center has been a frustrating mess for people hoping to dash in and quickly take care of their civic duty.
"It's been one of our busiest sites," says David Beirne, spokesman for the Harris County Clerk's Office. The pace of early voting is double that of 2000, he says.
"There were waits of 45 minutes the first two days, and you don't usually see that until the last two days," he says.
At the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray, one of the most popular early voting sites in Houston, more than 100 voters an hour cast ballots.
"It's been that way every day since we've started. It hasn't ceased," said Lee Parsley, the supervisor of the polling place. "I don't think I've ever seen lines at 4:30 p.m. That's unprecedented for us at this location."
He estimates that the site has processed as many as 2,000 voters a day.
Depending on the time of day, the wait can be anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour. During the lunch hour Wednesday, early voters stood in line for about 45 minutes before they made it to the voting machine.