Harris County tries to speed up early voting amid record crowds

Changes were made on the second day of early voting to keep the lines moving.

It was another busy voting day Tuesday as thousands of people cast their ballot every hour. Now the huge turnout has election officials making some changes to keep up.

Long after the lunch hour at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray Street, voters were walking up and lining up even faster than they could walk into the polls.

“Not this time of day,” said voter Patrick Carson, when asked if he was expecting long lines. “I was hoping that they wouldn’t be very long.”

“We thought we were being smarter than everyone else by coming at this time, but I guess that wasn’t right,” said voter Bill Krips.

Krips was one of many voters trying to beat the crowds the day after a record-breaking Day One of early voting, which saw close to 6,000 people per hour casting their ballot.

Harris County’s top election official told KHOU-TV while he was expecting record crowds on the first day of early voting, he planned for 54,000 people not show up to the polls, not the 67,000 that ultimately did.

“But the biggest reason (for the long wait times) is we had a huge turnout yesterday: 20,000 more than we have ever done on the very first day of early voting,” said Stan Stanart, Harris County Clerk.

On Tuesday, Stanart says the county would be moving around election workers and laptops to the busiest polls to move voters through the door faster.

“We are adjusting,” said Stanart. “Hopefully we’ll make things go a little smoother today.”

However, Stanart says voters were also partially responsible for the slowdown. That includes people who’d moved and had to fill out new paperwork, along with people who brought in paper ballots they were supposed to have mailed in.

“We had to cancel the ballot,” said Stanart. “That added to some of the time.”

Voter Juanita Rasmus said her half-hour wait at the polls on Tuesday was well worth the opportunity to cast her ballot.

“No matter how long this line was, I was gonna be in it,” said Rasmus. “It’s absolutely that important. At some point I’m gonna have grandkids, and I want to have something to say about the kind of world they end up growing up in.”

To see daily turnout at each of the early voting locations, along with a sample ballot and more information, click here.

For more voting information from across the Houston area, click here.

 

(© 2016 KHOU)


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