A few items:
- Houston Public Media: Big Turnout On First Day Of Early Voting In Harris County.
Early voting is under way in Texas and turnout has been strong across greater Houston, including Harris County.
The office of Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart calculated that, on average, 6,000 people were voting per hour during the morning of October 24th, the first day designated for early voting.
“That’s higher than what we’ve ever done before in Harris County’s history. So, the turnout is strong and, with the expanded hours that we have this, you know, first week, it will even be a higher turnout this week,” Stanart commented as he visited the polling place located at the Metropolitan Multi Service Center, on West Gray Street, near the Montrose Area.
Several voters who went to that location said they had never seen such a long line.
- KPRC: Record turnout expected for early voting.
Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart says he’s expecting a record turnout as early voting begins Monday for the two weeks prior to the Nov. 8 Election Day.
As the possibility of cheating continues to be a national topic, Stanart says voting fraud is rare but is a possibility, especially with the ballot by mail process.
”We do have many cases where we suspect voter fraud in our ballot by mail process but to get to where we can get an indictment is a whole different case,” he said. “You’ve got to actually find the exact person that’s doing it because it’s obvious there’s something going on, but to be able to prove it so we can get the conviction, that’s where the difficult part is.”
Stanart has heard Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's claims that the election is rigged and that there is a chance for him to lose the election because of fraud. Stanart says while it is not perfect, the Harris County system will not be easily compromised and he sought to allay people's concerns that their votes will not be counted.
- The Facts: Brazoria County prepares for higher turnouts with new equipment, extra polling locations.
In a presidential election season where anything can, and will, happen, the Brazoria County Elections Department plans to make sure voters have no surprises at the polls.
“I keep telling everybody I want to go out with a bang, but I want it to be a good bang,” joked Janice Evans, the county’s outgoing elections director.
Elections officials spent $162,000 for 56 new voting machines from Hart InterCivic Inc. to brace themselves for a voter rush at the polls, as well as accommodate the 10 extra polling locations added for the Nov. 8 election to stem the flow in certain areas.
“We were waiting for the big turnout so we want to be prepared,” Assistant Elections Director Lisa Mujica said. “We have about 800 pieces of equipment back here.
“We’ve already brought them in and set them up and labeled them and tested them. We’re ready to go.”
Voter turnout is historically paltry both statewide and locally, with only 30.46 percent of registered Brazoria County voters showing up to the polls last year. However, the most contentious presidential election in recent memory has primed election officials for higher numbers.
“It’s the intensity of it,” Mujica said.
From the Texas Tribune: Record early voting numbers reported across Texas.
After the first day of early voting, Williamson, Bastrop and Hays counties all report having a record-breaking number of people showing up to the polls, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
The lines at various polling places were particularly long, and some voters said they had to wait for hours before casting their ballot. “I usually vote early for the very reason for escaping the lines, and this year that didn’t happen, so we’ll try again,” Amanda Stephens of Corpus Christi told the Tribune. She said she didn’t recall having trouble voting during previous election seasons.
As the Tribune’s Jim Malewitz reports, the Harris County Clerk’s Office said about 53,000 people had cast ballots by 4:30 p.m., which surpassed the roughly 47,000 votes cast on the first day of early voting during the 2012 presidential election. Denton County also saw a large turnout, although voting at 11 places started late because some machines needed to be reprogrammed.
According to Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, it’s difficult to say whether the high polling turnout will continue throughout early voting, which continues until Nov. 4. “Historically, presidential elections tend to attract more voters, especially when there is not an incumbent in the White House,” Pierce said.
From the Houston Chronicle: Harris County breaks record for first day of early voting.
After more than 18 months of exhaustive media coverage, two grueling nomination fights and three combative debates, voters in Harris County and across Texas lined up in record numbers Monday to cast early ballots in the presidential election.
Monday's turnout of 67,471 in-person voters shattered the county record of 47,093 set in 2012 for the first day of early voting. Another 61,543 mail ballots had been returned as of Monday, bringing the total number of early voters so far to 129,014 in Texas' most populous county.