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HOUSTON The rush hour hit early at polling places around Harris County as voters lined up for hours, taking advantage of their final chance to vote before Election Day.

As the final hours of early voting ticked away, election official released data indicating more than 750,000 voters will probably have cast their ballots before the polls open Tuesday.

Well, elections are more important today, said Nancy Moehrle, who voted at Champion Forest Baptist Church, the busiest early voting site in Harris County. And so many people care. And that s pretty darned exciting that everybody s out here waiting their turn to be a part of America.

Procrastinating voters jammed polls in traditionally busy polling places, reading, studying, chatting on cell phones to pass the time and using umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. Some of them simply gave up and left, but most stayed despite the long lines.

I doubt if you ll find many people really complaining that much about standing in that line over there, said David Bartley, another voter at Champions Forest, where the line snaked through rooms and hallways and spilled onto the sidewalk outside.

But voters who did a little research managed to avoid the crowds by heading to less busy polling places like the Galena Park Library, the county s least popular voting site. Election workers there were surprised to hear their site had earned that distinction, because they said the place was much busier this year than in past elections.

Nonetheless, voters like Arlene Meise, who had given up on voting at another location, discovered she could save time by driving to Galena Park.

This was wonderful, she said. No waiting at all. Not only that, there s a chair in there for somebody with an injured leg like me, but I didn t need it.

At a polling place on Franz Road in Katy, the lines snaked out of the building, around a parking lot, through a nearby playground and around a jogging path. By the time the polls closed at 7:00, voters reported going through the line took them two hours.

Now the early voting rush is over. And voters who waited will have to cast their ballots the old fashioned way on Election Day.

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