HOUSTON – Most agree that the voting process in Harris County -- whether early voting or on Election Day -- was very smooth compared to previous years.
Newly-appointed interim Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins takes credit for much of the success.
In the 2020 Harris County election, there were 1.4 million early ballots cast, an unprecedented number. About 127,000 of those through from drive-thru voting. About 10,000 votes were cast during the 24-hour voting period. Both firsts in a Harris County presidential election.
Hollins, a 34-year-old lawyer who graduated from Hightower High School, stepped in as interim Harris County Clerk in June. Notably, he was the youngest person to ever hold the office and the first minority to serve in this position.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve in this position and protect the right to vote in Harris County,” Hollins said. “Despite so many court battles, we were able to protect the right to vote.”
Hollins fought many legal battles aimed at ensuring all the votes were counted. He showed the nation what 24-hour voting periods could look like and he moved to expand physical access to the polls.
“We tripled the number of early voting centers," Hollins said. "We strengthened our wait-time tools so that voters could choose to vote at a place that was going to be most convenient for them where they could get in and get out, and we ended up with an Election Day where there were essentially zero lines across Harris County.”
It was an impressive feat for a man who was taking on his first election. When polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Hollins did not waste time in having his teams count. By midnight Tuesday, Hollins said, about 87% of the votes in Harris County were counted. Things are now wrapping up. Military and overseas ballots still need to be counted. They’re hoping to certify the election next week and then look to the future.
“I’ve been able to get sleep the last couple of nights," Hollins said. "I know that the (officials) in Atlanta, Pennsylvania and Georgia ... I know they’re still up working really, really, really hard ... but their state laws just put them in this position.”
While Hollins won’t take over the Harris County Clerk position for the next election, Hollins said he is going to make sure he transfers all he’s learned to the next clerk. He plans on returning to his law practice but said he is determined to bring efficiency and effectiveness to elections procedures throughout the country.
“I’ll immediately be returning to my law practice, but what’s become apparent to me during this time is that we need to change particularly around voting,” Hollins said. “So I’m going to be working with the Texas Legislature as well as U.S. Congress and Senate to change laws that are so very much needed to make voting easier and to make counting easier.”