All polling places across Harris County were fully closed as of 9 p.m. and no voters remain in line, Harris County Clerk Christopher Hollins said in a virtual update. Vote totals have been reported from 5 of the county's 109 voting centers so far as results continue to come into the central counting station on Todd Street in Houston.
Roughly half of the early voting ballots cast were mail ballots, Hollins said. About 36,000 and 27,500 ballots were cast by mail in 2018 and 2016 primary runoffs, respectively, according to data from the Harris County Clerk's Office.
Hollins said the key to preventing long lines at voting centers in November—when turnout is expected to be much higher—involves having more locations and more machines at those locations. He also encouraged eligible voters to apply for mail ballots, identifying them as another crucial method by which the county can ease lines at voting centers.
"People need to be voting from home," he said. "The more people we can have voting from the safety of their homes, the less longer lines we will have and the less there will be potential for the spread of COVID-19."
Posted 7:59 p.m.
As polls closed across Harris County on election day for primary runoffs July 14, Harris County Clerk Christopher Hollins said roughly 60,000 ballots were cast over the course of the day.
More than 150,000 ballots were cast throughout the two-week early voting process, including mail-in ballots, Hollins said. The total set a record for Harris County for turnout in a primary runoff, he said. About 80,000 total voters were case in Democratic and Republican primary runoffs in Harris County in 2016, according to election archives.
"This tells us a number of things," he said. "Voters felt safe at the polls, and voters who voted by mail felt encouraged that they could take that option."
As of 7:15 p.m., 90 of the county's 109 polling places were completely closed down after all voters were able to cast ballots, Hollins said.
Hollins said he personally visited each of the county's 57 early voting locations throughout the early voting process. On election day, he said he visited voting centers in each of the county's four precincts as well as an election day mail ballot drop-off location, which were set up for voters who received mail ballots but were unable to send them in on time. Typically Harris County has one mail ballot drop-off location, but 11 locations were set up for the primary runoffs.
As officials work to cope with challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Hollins said changes were made on a day-to-day basis throughout early voting to try to increase safety. Following the election, he said a survey would be sent out to poll workers as well as some voters and county clerk staff to get more information on how to improve safety.
"Today, [the voting centers] were the safest they have ever been, and when we move forward to the November election, they will be even safer," Hollins said.