Breaking News
More () »

Houston's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Houston, Texas | KHOU.com

Measures in place at early voting locations to ensure safety

Harris County Clerk voters are not screened because it is their constitutional right to vote.

HOUSTON — Early voting numbers in Harris County are unlike anything elections officials have ever seen before.

More people have voted in the first four days of early voting in Harris County than the total number of early in-person votes cast in the 2004 presidential election.

The Harris County Clerk’s Office estimates more than 414,000 people have voted so far.

The record-breaking pace of people taking advantage of more than 100 voting centers is expected to continue through the weekend.

The weather did close down some drive-thru voting locations for a bit.

Because of COVID-19, polling stations have rules in place if they suspect a poll worker is sick.

“We are in totally uncharted waters with so many voters coming out to cast their ballots,” Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins said.

“Before three days ago we’d only had 100,000 voters during early voting on a single day in history in Texas. And, so for us to be doing it three days in a row and potentially a fourth is just unheard of,” he said.

Hollins says it doesn’t appear to be slowing down despite the pandemic.

“Voters are not screened because it is their constitutional right to vote. We cannot prevent them from entering a voting center,” Hollins said.

Voters have several options, including the opportunity to vote outdoors.

"Even then if you insist on coming indoors, we make sure that you’re separated from other voters and in fact that you vote at a specific machine that is even further socially distant away from the other voting machines,” Hollins said.

Hollins said the county has strict protocols in place to keep voting centers safe.

Election workers have their temperatures checked every day.

On Thursday, an election worker’s test results came back positive.

"We not only sent that election worker home but we sent every other election worker home as well and sent them for rapid COVID testing," Hollins said.

He said no other election workers have tested positive.

Hollins said the southeast Houston center was closed, sanitized and new elections workers were brought in.

RELATED: Early voting location in SE Houston temporarily closed due to clerk's positive COVID-19 test

The center reopened in less than an hour.

The clerk’s office expects these same guidelines to be in place on Election Day when more than 800 voting centers are open.