Harris County sets record for turnout on first day of early voting

HOUSTON – Voters in Harris County shattered records for turnout Tuesday on the first day of early voting.

According to a tweet from Harris County Clerk’s Office, 115,000 people had voted in the county before 6 p.m. By the times the polls closed for the night, more than 128,000 people had voted across the county.

The record for highest day turnout during early voting was broken after 4 p.m. when the number passed the 100,000 mark. The previous record of 100,005 was set in 2016 on the last day of early voting.

“We’ve already shattered the ‘opening day’ record for Early Voting turnout,” Chris Hollins, Harris County Clerk, wrote in a tweet.

The website for the Harris County Clerk’s Election Division reported long lines at several polling places across the county. An aerial view of West Gray Multi-Service Center showed a line that snaked its way through the parking lot, as voters waited in line before polls opened at 7 a.m.

Reports of problems in Harris County were minimal, beyond the wait, which did not seem to bother those who came to cast a ballot.

“I think this is the most important vote in history,” said Theotis Carter, 80.

Carter said those in line to cast a ballot did so for good reason.

“The economy, violence, everything ... we need some turnaround,” Carter said.

Carter cast his ballot at a polling location on the campus of Texas Southern University, where the legendary “Ocean of Soul” marching band led a pep rally that included Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

“People are in there voting," Turner said. "In fact, they said people have been lining up and ready to vote since 6 o’clock this morning,” Turner said.

Turner also announced the Mayor’s Early Vote College Challenge to inspire the University of Houston, Texas Southern University and Rice University students to vote early.

“We want our voices out,” said Kiaria Windham, a senior at TSU, who said younger voters are engaged. “We have to be accountable for each other. We have to make sure everyone is out there. That’s why TSU is out here today.”

There are 122 early-voting locations in Harris County this election cycle, compared to 40 during the 2016 election.

Mark and Aaron Krause, father and son, voted during their lunch break at the polling site housed at BakerRipley’s Ripley House on the east end.

“The line was a little bit longer than we’re used to,” Mark Krause said. “It went pretty smooth.”

Voters stood under a covered basketball court before the line entered the building.

“We stood in line for about 15 minutes," Aaron Krause said. "It moved pretty quick.”

The line moved quickly, too, at Moody Park on the near north side, where the Moody Community Center had an average wait time of 20 minutes.

“I’m not looking forward to waiting in the line that’s there, but it’s promising to see that people are out,” said Erica Alderete.

Registered voters are allowed to cast their ballot at any polling place during early voting. The appropriate identification is required.

Go to harrisvotes.com to find a polling place, check wait times, view your sample ballot and review identification requirements.

Early voting ends on Oct. 30.


The previous record that was set in 2016 has been corrected.

About the Authors:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.