Where are we voting in the primary runoffs?

Still TBD.

Harris County Democrats on Thursday accused their Republican counterparts of excluding predominantly Black and Latino areas from a “disturbingly racist” map of proposed voting locations for the May 24 primary runoff, days after alleging the county GOP was purposely dragging its feet in submitting the map.

Republicans rejected the allegations, blaming the delay on a dispute with the county elections administrator over the number of polling places planned for the runoff. They contend the county has breached an agreement with the party in offering a total of 260 runoff polling locations, instead of the 375 used during the first round of voting on March 1.

The delay in approving the map threatens to trigger a cascade of problems, officials warn, in a county already known for its election mishaps.

Under Texas election law, both parties must approve the layout of voting locations in counties, such as Harris, that allow residents to visit any polling place, not just their assigned precinct. Typically a procedural hurdle that is resolved with little fanfare, the two parties have been hung up on this step for weeks, leaving the elections administrator’s office with a shortened timeline to recruit and train workers and set up voting equipment.

Harris County Democrats have accused their GOP counterparts of “willfully delaying the planning process in order to create turmoil that will further erode confidence in our democratic elections.”

Republicans say those allegations are false, noting that a party official emailed the county on March 31 — a week after the elections office sent the GOP a proposed list of locations — to inquire about the smaller number of voting locations.

In a letter to the Harris County Attorney’s Office last week, Steven Mitby, an attorney representing the county GOP, wrote that operating fewer polling places “will have the effect of disenfranchising voters and making the voting experience more difficult.” He argued the county is legally bound, under a contract with the party, to operate the same number of runoff voting locations that it had during the March 1 primary.

The elections administrator’s office, meanwhile, has said the 260 polling places would be more than double the 109 operated by the county during the 2020 primary runoff election, the first runoff under the countywide voting system that allows people to vote outside their home precincts. In the 2016 and 2018 runoffs, the county provided 78 and 89 voting locations, respectively, according to the elections administrator’s office.


The GOP proposal, [the HCDP] said, does not contain any polling places in an area enclosed by Texas 288, Interstate 45 and Loop 610, which includes Third Ward, Riverside Terrace, Texas Southern University and the University of Houston. The map also does not include voting locations in Sunnyside or near Hobby Airport.

Other areas that would go without polling places under the GOP map include Trinity Gardens and swaths of east and northeast Houston that, like the other areas, are predominantly made up of Black and Latino residents.

“The Harris County GOP’s proposed list of polling locations, if adopted as presented, would be a violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act,” Rob Icsezen, deputy chair of the Harris County Democratic Party Primary Elections Committee, said in a statement. “This list of locations is a bad faith first step from Republicans in a process that should have started weeks ago.”

The HCDP press release about this, which includes images of the proposed locations by each part, is here. You can judge for yourself. I’m a partisan Democrat, so I’m not going to try to convince you that I’m impartial about this. I will say, turnout in primary runoffs is almost always much lower than in the primaries (the 2012 Republican runoff for US Senate is the main exception to this), and in the pre-voting centers days it was quite common for multiple precinct locations to be combined, making the total number of locations smaller. It seems to me that maybe we’d all benefit from there being a more objective set of criteria for this, with a default option for the counties’ elections offices in the event that one party or the other fails to meet a deadline. Something to incentivize agreements in a timely fashion, with protection for the out party from being pushed around by the party in charge. I confess that I don’t know a whole lot about this aspect of the process, so maybe we already have that and this is mostly chest-thumping. I’d just like this to be settled in a sensible and equitable manner so we can get the rest of the details worked out.

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12 Responses to Where are we voting in the primary runoffs?

  1. Frederick says:

    Let’s just have these private entities (the Republican and Democratic Parties) organize, host, staff and pay for their own primary and run-off primary elections.

    Problem solved.

  2. voter_worker says:

    Slightly off topic, but has anyone heard anything about the status of the search for EA Longoria’s successor? This conflict about number and distribution of polling places for the runoff might portend other conflicts being expressed in the vetting of EA candidates.

  3. Joel says:

    Frederick: seems reasonable, but the parties might object that it is state law that requires them to hold those elections in the first place.

    If the “private” parties got to set their own “private” rules for their nomination processes, (then we would be in the 19th century and) the parties might be more
    amenable to your demands.

  4. Frederick says:


    The state law was written solely by the Rep and Dem parties for their own needs and to shift their party’s candidate nominating costs to all taxpayers rather than for their parties (private entities) to bear the costs. Time for all these folks who fervently say “I’m a Republican” or “I’m a Democrat” to put their money where their mouth is and pay for their own party logistics.

    You are not seriously saying the GOP is not currently living in the 19th century are you? You read the news, right?

  5. C.L. says:

    Frederick, 99.99% of all Texas state laws are written solely by the Republican or Democratic party for their own needs…

  6. Frederick says:


    You are giving the Dems and Reps too much credit.

    It’s 100%.

  7. Karen says:

    The problem is both parties having to share polling locations. It makes absolutely no sense for the Republican party to have to staff and pay to have a poll in a highly Democrat area and vice versa. The parties, not the taxpayers, are responsible for paying for the running of the primaries on election day. The county pays for running Early Voting. I don’t know why the GOP wanted the same number of polls for the run-off as was used for the primary in March, but it is true that it is in their contract. I would like to know why the EA is not abiding by the contract. The. contract states 375 polls, which would fully serve both parties as it did in March. The EA is the problem and should have stepped down when she resigned. The accusation that the GOP is trying to cause chaos is ludicrous given that it would only serve to hurt the smooth running of their own primary runoff.

  8. Pingback: How Dallas is handling supply and demand of voting centers – Off the Kuff

  9. Mainstream says:

    Frederick, left to their own devices, I would project that the current Republican Party would opt for a convention system to nominate officeholders, similar to that in use in Virginia and other states, which likely would lead to even more extreme nominees.

  10. Frederick says:


    My point is that the GOP is bellyaching about their contract [visualize GOP attorney Mitby waving paper contract in air], which is a bit rich when it is someone else (Harris County taxpayers) that is paying for their party’s primary. Let the GOP fully pay for their own damn selection of wingnuts.

    As for your worry about the GOP nominees becoming more extreme (definitely possible/probably!) in a different candidate selection process I cannot comment on that party’s current blissful walk (goosestep?) down fascist lane.

  11. Karen says:

    I do like the idea behind the way Dallas is addressing the polling issues. I would much rather have fewer polls, that are fully staffed with very experienced poll workers than more polls than are necessary, that are not adequately staffed with experienced workers. I would really like to see the same polling locations used every year so that the voters know where to go. Its really not fair to the voters when the county keeps changing up the locations. If you took a look at the daily totals for Early Voting last fall, some of those polls had zero voters for a few days in a row. When Stan Stanart was running our elections as the County Clerk, he had something like 50 polls or so, not 90 or 120 as has been used most recently. As a former Early Voting clerk at Hiram Clarke, I can say that it was definitely adequate to address the number of Early Voting voters. Even back then, there were some days when we were doing all we could to stay awake with so few voters coming through.

  12. Karen says:

    Frederick, it is a bit rich to say the Republicans are “excluding predominantly Black and Latino areas from a “disturbingly racist” map of proposed voting locations for the May 24 primary runoff”, when in fact, they are proposing more polls than what the EA or the Democrat party is proposing. In fact, the same polls that were used in the primary, and at the same locations so that the voters aren’t confused as to where to go. As far as who pays for the primaries, technically, State funds (state taxpayers) pays for the primary expenses for both parties as it relates to Election Day, and the county pays for primary expenses for Early Voting. See the State Election Code: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/SOTWDocs/EL/htm/EL.173.htm

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