Harris County Voting Centers

From The Houston Chronicle

Harris County Commissioners have voted in favor of creating County wide Voting Centers as proposed by County Clerk Diane Trautman. What does this mean to voters and what’s the downside? I was fortunate to be invited to Trautman’s office to discuss this as well as the proposed Combined Primary voting locations. (more on the primaries later)

Early Voting
Early voting will not change. If you vote early you simply vote at any early voting location in Harris County. Unlike in the past these locations will also be available for voting on Election Day.

Election Day
On Election Day voters can vote at ANY voting location in any precinct or at any early voting location. There are no longer “Precinct” voting locations. Instead there are “voting centers” located in your precinct. So on Election Day you simply vote where you used to vote in your precinct, or at any early voting location in Harris County, or at any voting center in any precinct in Harris County. Got it?

On Election Day in 2018 we helped about 100 voters who came to the Clear Lake Library, an early voting location, find their precinct voting location. Now those individuals would simply vote there on Election Day. All the early voting locations in Harris County will be available on Election Day.

Finding a place to vote
On Election Day you can access the County Clerks website, enter an address, and it will display the 5 nearest voting centers along with an indication of how heavy the traffic is at that location. (Red, Yellow, Green lights) So a voter could vote close to their work, or school, or anywhere in the County.

The Downside
So voting centers might sound too good to be true. What’s the catch? For voters there is no catch. It’s easier. It’s just plain easier to vote.

For candidates and their consultants who pour over the election results as they come in an attempt to predict the outcome based upon precinct voting, it’s not going to be that easy. Since there are no “precinct voting locations” that analysis will not be able to be performed since someone could vote in a different voting center in a different precinct. Candidates locked in a close election may have to wait till all the locations have been counted.

The bottom line
The use of voting centers was not to help the consultants predict when to pop the champagne. They were created to help the voter voter. And it will.

Great job Harris County Clerk and staff!

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