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Harris County debuts new machines as early voting begins

Election Day is May 1 for several key municipal races and key propositions, including the Pearland ISD school board and Katy ISD bonds.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Early voting started Monday for the May 1 municipal elections.

Voters in cities across the Houston area are deciding on everything from mayors to school board members to bond referendums.

The nearly 400,000 Harris County voters eligible for this election will be voting on new machines.

New devices are touch screen and create a paper ballot, it's not only captured electronically for faster reporting on Election Night but possible recounts.

"If there's any kind of recount, any kind of audit, heck, if anyone wants to ask questions, we'll have that paper ballot as the quadruple redundancy for the entire system," Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria.

This election is also the first for Longoria, who started in the newly-created position following the November 2020 election.

RELATED: Early voting: What's on the ballot, what to bring and where to vote

Harris County will have 23 in-person early voting locations and seven drive-thru voting sites.

Although Texas lawmakers are considering bills that could ban drive-thru voting and make other election changes, both Longoria and KHOU11 political analyst Bob Stein say voters don’t have to worry about that happening in this election.

“As a general rule, the governor doesn’t sign bills until the legislative session ends,” Stein said. “Of course, that will be the end of May.”

Longoria says strict pandemic precautions from November will return.

However, unlike last fall, Harris County will not hold 24-hour voting during this early voting period. Still, they will have extended hours until 10 p.m. on Monday, April 26.

Beyond Harris County, there are plenty of other big ballot issues, such as the Pearland ISD school board and Katy ISD bonds.

Early voting for the May 1 elections runs through April 27.