As early voting starts, find out how voting is changing this year in Harris County

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Early voting is underway in Harris County for May 4 elections, which include a bond referendum for Cy-Fair ISD, several seats on the Jersey Village City Council and a sales tax election for the Cypress Creek Fire Department.

When voters head to the polls on May 4, they will be able to vote at any of the county’s polling places as part of a new program being enacted this year.

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley approved Harris County’s application to participate in the countywide polling place program March 7. In previous elections, voters in Harris County were restricted on election day to only vote at their assigned polling location based on voting precinct.

“The voters of Harris County have made it clear that a countywide polling place program would have a positive impact on elections, and I am confident that the transition to a countywide polling place program will be successful,” Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman said in a statement.

In past elections, Harris County voters were able to vote at any of the county’s 25 polling locations during early voting periods. Voters will continue to be allowed to vote at any early voting location in elections moving forward, Trautman said.

Elements of the program were debated at several recent Harris County Commissioners Court meetings as well as at seven community meetings held throughout Harris County in January and February, garnering both positive and negative feedback from Harris County residents. The court voted to proceed with the application process at its Feb. 12 meeting.

Supporters, including Trautman, touted anticipated increased voter participation in Harris County, stating the program would eliminate confusion over assigned polling locations while making it more convenient for residents to complete their civic duties.

“The countywide polling place program will allow more Houstonians to exercise their most precious right: the right to vote,” Trautman said in a statement.

Although all polling locations will be open to voters May 4, part of the plan involves analyzing voter behavior to identify polling locations that could be closed or consolidated in the future.

Opponents of the program shared concerns over the potential relocation or closure of longtime polling locations, which they said could hinder voter turnout for residents who are accustomed to voting at their preferred polling location. Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said he would not be in favor of closing any traditional voting locations in the near future.

Before closing or consolidating any polling locations, Trautman said her office would first check with the community and would not make any changes if there was opposition at the community level. Any change to polling locations would also have to be approved by the court, which reviews a full list of polling locations before each election, Trautman said.

With more than 2 million registered voters, Harris County is now the largest county in the U.S. to implement the countywide polling place program. In addition to Harris County, 52 other Texas counties also participate in the program.

Early voting runs from April 22-30, but excludes April 28. Election day is May 4.

There are roughly 26 polling places in the Cy-Fair area. For more information about the countywide polling place program, call 713-755-6965 or visit www.harrisvotes.com.

The following map shows voting locations in the Cy-Fair area.

  • Red: Early voting and election day locations
  • Blue: Election day voting locations only
  • Green: Special elections only (early voting and election day)

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Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.
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