But first, a few words about early voting so far.
Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth reports that voters have cast more than 54.4K in-person ballots during the first four days of Early Voting for the November 7 Joint General & Special Elections. More people are choosing to vote early compared to the most similar election in 2015, when only 36.3K voted in person during the same time.
“We are looking at an increase of about 50%. We have been working hard to ensure Voting Centers are up and running on time, and voters are getting in and out easily,” said Clerk Hudspeth. “Voters are showing interest in this election and are eager to make their choices ahead of November 7.”
There are 42 political entities on the November 7 ballot. However, voters will only see the contests that are connected to the address where they are registered to vote. Some may see a minimum of 15, while others a maximum of about 35 contests on their ballots. Only voters who live within the City of Houston’s legal boundaries are eligible to vote in the Houston Mayoral, Controller, and City Council races.
“More than 700 election workers are stationed at the 68 Voting Centers across Harris County during the early voting period, and more than 6,000 will be working at the 701 Voting Centers on Election Day, November 7,” added Clerk Hudspeth. “It takes a lot of people to run an election, and I am grateful for each and every one of them.”
The comparison here is just for in person voting; as previously noted, when you throw in mail ballots 2023 is still ahead but by a lot less. If things continue as they have been, though, that gap will grow. Why this is happening is not clear, and we won’t have a truly full picture until November 7.
In the meantime, Clerk Hudpseth knows that eyes are on her and her team.
Internally, Hudspeth said she is “providing hands-on leadership and making myself accessible to all employees no matter who they are or their level of seniority.”
Externally, Hudspeth said she is “letting voters know that I’m all about working to do all possible within the law to create an election infrastructure that makes sure that all voters are served well and treated equally, no matter who they are, how they look, how they communicate, or what they believe.”
In recent weeks, she has kept a particularly active profile, holding press conferences and attending Commissioners Court meetings, a starkly different approach than Tax Assessor-Collector Ann Harris Bennett, who has missed multiple public appearances in the weeks since taking on voter registration duties.
You can read the rest, much of it is familiar and some of it I discussed with her in our interview. The next paragraph in this story talks about the multiple changes in who has been conducting elections in Harris County in recent years, and now with the impending retirement of Ann Harris Bennett, we’re going to get some more change on the voter registration side of things as well. Just something to keep in mind, and a reminder that the next election for that office will be very important.
And by the way, through Friday, Day Five, we’re now at 71,911 in person votes and 79,978 total votes. A whopping 3,264 mail ballots were added on Friday, bringing the total to over 8K. That compares to 48,207 in person votes, 21,141 mail votes, and 69,348 total votes for 2015. I’ll have a full report on Monday, including a stray thought about why early voting this year has been so robust. In the meantime, whatever it is, it’s still happening.