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Texas election officials prepare for the nation’s first 2022 primary on Tuesday

Elections official say Harris County is changing how they allocate voting machines to avoid the hours-long lines seen in the March 2020 primary.

HOUSTON — The 2022 midterm season begins Tuesday as Texas voters head to the polls for the state’s primary, the first in the nation this year.

“It takes hours and hours and months of work to get here to this moment,” Isabel Longoria, Harris County’s Elections Administrator, said on Saturday as election judges picked up their voting machines and other supplies.

Registered voters in Harris County will use touchscreen voting machines with scanned paper ballots, new since the 2020 primary.

They can cast their ballot on Election Day at any of the county’s 375 polling places.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. statewide.

“If you’re in line at 7 p.m., you get to vote, no matter how late it is,” Longoria said.

Another elections official told KHOU the county is changing how they allocate voting machines to avoid the hours-long lines seen in the March 2020 primary, before Longoria oversaw elections.

Instead of Democrats and Republicans splitting the number of machines 50-50 at each site, how many each party gets Tuesday will be based on past turnout data at each location.

Voters can see current wait times at harrisvotes.com.

At check-in, voters must choose to cast their ballot in either the Democratic or Republican primary. However, if there’s a runoff, they’ll have to stick with that same party.

Once polls close, election judges will take the machines and ballots to one of four drop-off sites in different sections of the county. Nothing will be opened or counted until brought by staff to the Election Technology Center.

Voting by mail is another option. Harris County has rejected a record number of applications and ballots, 30 percent as of February 24, almost all due to the state’s new ID requirements on applications and carrier envelopes.

Longoria says mail ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday and received in the county’s downtown office by Wednesday.

Voters can return their own mail ballot in person Tuesday at the county’s downtown location at 1001 Preston from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

People with a mail ballot which they have not yet sent in can also take it to a polling site, surrender it and vote in person.

Finally, there's curbside voting available for people who have something that prevents them from going inside.

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