Harris County extends early voting hours for special House election
Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman announced Tuesday extended early voting hours for the House District 145 special election that begins next week.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the first week of early voting in the race to fill the seat formerly held by Carol Alvarado, who was elected to the state Senate last month.
“One of my goals upon taking office is making voting easier for Houstonians and expanding early voting hours is just one way to do that,” Trautman said in a statement.
The hours are longer than in elections run by former county clerk Stan Stanart, who kept polls open until 4:30 p.m. during the first week of early voting.
Turnout is likely to be low in the H.D. 145 race, but extended early voting hours will be crucial in high-turnout general elections, which can draw more than 1 million Harris County voter turnout. Long lines plagued early voting for this past November’s midterm elections, which saw a record 1.2 million ballots.
Some voters were perplexed why Harris County voters were unable to vote after work or school during the first week of early balloting when other large counties, including Bexar, Travis, Dallas and Tarrant, kept their polls open until 7 p.m. or later.
Stanart acknowledged then the county needed to improve the voter experience. Trautman defeated Stanart’s bid for re-election in November.
There are eight candidates on the ballot for the District 145 seat: Libertarian Clayton Hunt, Republican Martha Elena Fierro, and Democrats Elias De La Garza, Melissa Noriega, Ruben Dario Gonsalez, Oscar Del Toro, Alfred Moreno and Christina Morales.
Election Day is Jan. 29.
Zach Despart covers Harris County for the Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .