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Election Day

Primary Day 2018

From the inbox:

The Harris County Clerk’s Office wants voters to know the top 5 items they need to know to ensure they are able to cast their ballot in the March 6, 2018 Democratic or Republican Primary Election.

According to Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, the chief election officer of the County, voters need to know the following before heading to the polls on Tuesday:

Voters should know if they are registered to vote in Harris County.  In Texas, voters must be registered to vote 30 days before Election Day. To verify registration, voters may visit www.HarrisVotes.com.

Voters should know the Primary election in which they want to participate:  There are two elections taking place at the same time, the Democratic Primary Election and the Republican Primary Election. Voters may only vote in one of the elections.

Voters should know the designated Election Day polling location for their precinct:  On Election Day, all voters must vote at their designated Election Day poll for the precinct where they are registered.  Voters may find their designated polling location by visiting www.HarrisVotes.com and clicking on the “Find Your Poll and View Voter Specific Ballot” link on the front page. By entering their name or address, the search page will show them the polling locations for both the Democratic and Republican Parties.  Remember, voters may only vote in one of the elections.

Voter should know what is on their ballot:  Voters may view a sample ballot at www.HarrisVotes.com listing the contests and candidates that will appear on their actual ballot.  Voters may print their sample ballot, mark it and take it to the poll for reference, as long as the sample ballot is not visible to other voters.

Voters should know the forms of identification which is required to vote at the poll:  Voters possessing one of the acceptable forms of photo identification must present it when voting in person.  Voters who do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain an acceptable form of photo identification may complete a Reasonable Impediment Declaration at the poll describing a reasonable impediment to obtaining photo identification, and then show other acceptable form of identification.  A list of the acceptable forms of identification to vote can be found at www.HarrisVotes.com.

Primary elections are conducted by the major political parties to determine their nominees for Federal, State and County offices in advance of a general election.  Each party determines the number of polling locations available to voters on Election Day, where the polls are located and the staffing for those polls.  Election Day polling locations are open from 7 am to 7 pm.

To find more Election Day voting information, view a personal sample ballot, or review a list of acceptable forms of identification to vote at the polls, voters may visit www.HarrisVotes.com or call the Harris County Clerk’s office at 713.755.6965.

You can find your polling place here. If you know you precinct, the list of Dem locations is here, and of Republican locations is here. For my Woodland Heights peeps, note that Rs are voting at Hogg and Ds are at the First Baptist Church Heights Fellowship Hall across from Harvard Elementary. Check your polling location before you head out. I’ll have results tomorrow and beyond. Happy voting!

Today is Election Day

From the inbox:

vote-button

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart urges voters to prepare before heading to vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. “Harris County Voters can find their Election Day polling location and review the list of acceptable forms of identification required to vote by visiting www.HarrisVotes.com.”

Unlike Early Voting, on Election Day, voters are required to vote at their designated polling location for their precinct. Election Day polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All voters in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballot.

“All voters should make sure they have an acceptable form of identification. New to this election are options for voters who do not possess one of the acceptable photo IDs,” reminded Stanart, the chief election officer of the County. According to state guidelines,

A voter must show an acceptable photo identification at the polling location before the voter may be accepted for voting, unless the voter has a reasonable impediment to obtaining one of these forms of acceptable photo identification or the voter qualifies for one of the other exemptions. The forms of acceptable photo identification include:

• Texas Driver’s License issued by the Department of Public Safety (“DPS”)
• Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS;
• Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS;
• Texas Handgun License issued by DPS;
• United States Military Identification Card containing the person’s photograph;
• United States Citizenship Certificate containing the person’s photograph; or
• United States Passport.

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 4 years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

If a voter does not possess one of the forms of acceptable photo identification listed above, and the voter cannot reasonably obtain such identification, the voter has the right to execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration and present one of the following supporting documents: Valid voter registration certificate; Certified birth certificate (must be an original); Copy of or original current utility bill; Copy of or original bank statement; Copy of or original government check; Copy of or original paycheck; or Copy of or original other government document that displays your name and an address (though an original is required if it contains a photograph).

“For voters with disabilities, look for the greeter wearing the bright lime vest. They are there to ensure your access to the voting process,” concluded Stanart. “The election officials at the polls are there to ensure every voter has a great election experience. I encourage every registered voter to join us at the polls.”

To review a list of acceptable credentials to vote at the polling location, find a list of the Election Day polling locations, view a personal sample ballot and other election information, voters may visit the Harris County Clerk’s website at www.HarrisVotes.com or call 713.755.6965.

You can find your polling place here – remember, unlike early voting, there is only one place you can go if you vote today. Metro is offering a free ride to the polls if you need it. For all of the chatter about early voting turnout, it remains to be seen how many people there are left to vote today. I think that just on sheer population increase, we’re going to see a decent bump in turnout over 2012, both in Harris County and statewide. Whether the turnout rate climbs above 62-63% locally or above 60% statewide, that’s the real question. Have you voted yet> You have till 7 PM.

Today is Runoff Day

From the inbox:

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Runoff Election Day is Saturday, Dec. 12 for citizens registered to vote within the legal boundaries of the City of Houston and Houston ISD Trustee District II and III. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I encourage every eligible voter to do their homework on the candidates and vote in this important election,” stated Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, the chief election officer of the County. “Your vote will determine half of Houston’s governing body as well as two of the HISD Board of Trustees.”

There are over 800,000 registered voters in Harris County residing in unincorporated areas whose address may include “Houston” but do not reside in the Houston city limits. “It is very important to confirm your eligibility to vote before heading to the polls; and, if eligible, find out where your precinct is designated to vote on Election Day at www.HarrisVotes.com,” advised Stanart.

City of Houston voters registered to vote in Harris County and Montgomery County, and Houston Independent School District (HISD) voters may visit www.HarrisVotes.com for Election Day polling location information and to find out if they are eligible to participate in the Runoff Election.

City of Houston residents registered to vote in Ft. Bend County may vote at the location designated by the Fort Bend County election office. For more information, Fort Bend County voters should visit www.fortbendcountytx.gov.

“Remember, eligible voters are not required to have voted in the Nov. 3 Election to vote in the Runoff Election,” concluded Stanart.

I’ve got a copy of the polling places list here. Be sure to check that your usual place is being used before you head out. Metro is offering free rides to anyone with a voter registration card, so you don’t even have to drive. You don’t need me to tell you what the stakes are, so go do your thing. I’ll have results tomorrow.

Election Day: Get yourself to the polls

From County Clerk Stan Stanart:

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Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart strongly encourages citizens who plan to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3 to be prepared before voting on Election Day. “It is very important for voters to know the answers to Where, When, Who and What before heading to the polls on Election Day,” said Stanart, the chief election official of the county.

Where do I go to vote?

In Texas, on Election Day a voter must vote at the precinct where the voter is registered to vote. Voters can find their Election Day polling location by searching on their name or address on the Harris County Clerk’s election website at www.HarrisVotes.com.

When can I vote?

Polling locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters in line to vote by 7 p.m. are allowed to vote.

Who and what is on my ballot?

Voters can only vote on candidates and measures for districts in which they reside. Voters can view what they will see on their specific ballot by searching on their name or address on the “Find Your Poll and View Voter Specific Ballot” link at www.HarrisVoter.com. Voters may print their sample ballot to study and take with them into the voting booth.

What must I bring to the poll be able to vote?

A voter is required to present one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS;
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS;
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS;
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph;
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph;
  • United States passport.

Voters who do not present an acceptable form of photo identification may cast a “provisional ballot”. For the provisional ballot to be counted, the voter must present one of the required photo identifications to the Voter Registrar within 6 days after the election.

Voters cannot wear or display items that promote a candidate, proposition or a party inside of the polling location and should be aware that use of personal electronic devices, including cell phones, is prohibited. Voters may bring in documents that will assist the voter to vote.

“A well-informed voter helps make the voting process a more efficient and positive experience for all,” concluded Stanart. Voters may visit www.HarrisVotes.com or call 713.755.6965 for more election information.

Go here to find your polling place or to browse the list of all polling locations in Harris County. Unlike some elections where there tends to be some consolidation of polling locations, the vast majority of precinct locations should be open today.

Need a ride to the polls? Here’s one option:

Voting on election day is a big decision. We want you to think about what’s important to you – not how you’re going to get to and from your local polling place.

That’s why we’re offering new users in every Uber city throughout Texas a free ride to and from the polls (up to $15 each way) on November 3rd.

Check out this link to find your local polling place and other helpful Texas voting information.

Note that this only applies to new users – you need to sign up with promo code TexasVOTES to qualify – though it is good anywhere Uber operates in Texas. It’s crass promitionalism, but it’s crass promotionalism for a good cause. If you’d rather not hand your personal information over to a venture capital-funded company, there’s another option to consider:

[Metro is] offering free rides on our local buses and trains to all registered voters.

Simply carry your voter registration card and show it to the bus driver, or be ready to show it to a fare checker on our trains. Not sure where to vote? Go to HarrisVotes.com to find your polling location. The free rides do not apply to our Park & Ride buses.

Make your voice count tomorrow – and get to your polling place, courtesy of METRO.

You can then go here to plug in your starting address and the address of your polling place to get your ride mapped out. No excuses, y’all.

I’m an early voter, and judging from my Facebook feed so are a number of my friends, but by no means all of them. I’m certainly hoping that the share of people who vote like me will be higher today than it was during the EV period. We’ll know in a few hours. I will be at the KTRK studio tonight, doing some blogging, possibly dusting off my dreading looking ahead to the runoffs. See you tonight.

Special Election Day for SD26, HD123, and HD17

At long last, we have some endorsements. The Express News recommends TMF for SD26.

Martinez Fischer has demonstrated distinctive leadership that makes him the clear-cut choice for the Senate.

Early in his career, Martinez Fischer stirred the pot ineffectively. The 44-year-old lawyer admits he is “rough around the edges,” but he learned his legislative lessons well and emerged as a powerful force in recent years.

More than any other Democratic legislator from San Antonio, Martinez Fischer has demonstrated a knack for being in the center of the action when it matters most.

Martinez Fischer has generated the most headlines for the confrontational aspects of his role as the chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and his sometimes overexuberant partisan comments.

But his use of the levers of power to be positioned to help make crucial decisions — even in the Republican-dominated House — is the more important aspect of his performance.

[…]

We are confident that Martinez Fischer will be as effective as a Democrat is able to be in the GOP-dominated Senate. He has the standing to be a go-to guy for progressives as well as San Antonio’s pragmatic civic leaders.

They also recommend Diego Bernal in HD123.

During his tenure at City Hall, Bernal showed courage by successfully sponsoring a highly controversial nondiscrimination ordinance that provided new protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status.

Bernal, 38, also took the lead in creating an advisory panel to study the future of Alamo Plaza. The plaza has received lip service over the years, but the city has failed to nurture the downtown asset. Bernal’s efforts have revived hope for real improvements.

The former councilman has demonstrated a commitment to public service, and voters have good reason to expect that he will get up to speed on state issues quickly.

Both excellent choices, in my opinion.

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I don’t know what to expect from the three legislative special elections today except low turnout, the likelihood of at least one runoff, and the eventual need for another such election to fill the seat of either State Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer or Rep. Jose Menendez. For those of you in one of these districts, here’s where you are voting today if you have not already done so:

Bexar County polling sites.
Bexar County Precinct Finder.

Bastrop County Precinct Finder. There’s no general listing of polling sites. It appears you have to do the precinct location lookup to find out where you need to go to vote.

Caldwell County polling sites.

Gonzales County election information. There is no information specific to the January special election that I can find. I recommend calling the voter registrar at 830-672-2841 to inquire.

Karnes County election information. There is no information specific to the January special election that I can find. I recommend calling the elections administrator at 830-780-2246 to inquire.

Lee County elections information. They still have info pertaining to the SD18 special election up, but nothing for this one. I recommend calling the elections administrator at 979-542-3684 to inquire.

According to the Bastrop County Elections webpage, 3,114 early votes were cast in the HD17 election. I didn’t see any similar data for Bexar County. There were 35,196 total votes cast in the HD17 election in November, so you can get a feel for just how minuscule overall turnout is going to be. The Austin Chronicle has a good last-minute look at the races and the candidates if you’re still undecided.

Finally, yesterday was the filing deadline for the January 13 special election to fill the HD13 seat vacated by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst. The list of candidates that have filed, according to VoteTexas.govBecky Berger, Republican. Berger was a candidate for Railroad Commissioner least year. She’s also a wingnut.

Carolyn Cerny Bilski, Republican. Bilski is the Austin County Judge. Here’s a brief profile of her.

Leighton Schubert, Republican. This appears to be the press release announcing his candidacy.

Cecil R. Webster, Sr., Democrat. Webster was a candidate for Fayette County Judge last year, and garnered 22% of the vote, which put him ahead of the statewide Democrats in that county.

Here’s a Victoria Advocate story about the HD13 election. I’ll do some more searching for stories later this week.

Runoff Day is finally here

It’s the day on which the toxic idiocy of the GOP runoffs for Lt. Governor and Attorney General finally come to an end and we get a brief respite before the general election gets into full swing. But first, you have to vote if you didn’t vote early, and that means you have to find your polling place. From the inbox:

vote-button

Voters should visit www.HarrisVotes.com to verify their Election Day polling location before going to the polls on Tuesday, May 27th. Due to precinct consolidations, polling locations for the Democratic and Republican Primary Runoff Elections have changed from the March Primary Elections for many voters.

“Voters participating in the Primary Elections are reminded on Election Day that they may only vote at their designated polling location,” said Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, “To avoid frustration and confusion, please check www.HarrisVotes.com to find your Election Day voting site.

The Democratic & Republican Parties, who select the locations in primaries, have significantly reduced the number of polling locations. Primary Voters should not assume that they will be voting in the same location they voted in the March Primary. Election Day polling locations will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Voters, who voted in the March Primary, are only able to vote in the same party’s election for the Primary Runoff. If they did not participate in either Party’s March 4th Election and are eligible to vote, they may participate in the Runoff Primary of their party choice.

“Voters may also use the website’s ‘Find Your Poll and Ballot’ feature to print out a sample ballot to review,” said Stanart, who is also the county’s Chief Elections Officer. “The election webpage provides voters the information they need for the who, the when, the where, and the how to accessing the polls.”

To view a list of acceptable forms of Photo ID that can be presented to vote at the poll, Election Day polling locations and other voting information, voters may visit HarrisVotes.com or call 713.755.6965. On Twitter, voters can obtain timely voting updates by following the County Clerk’s Voter Outreach Office: @HarrisVotes.

Definitely check where your polling place is before you head out. I’ll have results later and tomorrow.

Today is Runoff Day in SD06

From the inbox:

Harris County’s Chief Election Official Stan Stanart reminds eligible voters in State Senate District 6 that the last day to vote in the Special Runoff Election is Saturday, March 2, 2013. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and voters must vote at their precinct polling location.

“If you are qualified to vote in the runoff election and have not voted, Saturday is your last chance,” said Stanart who is also the County Clerk. “I encourage all eligible voters who reside within the boundaries of Senate District 6 to vote. In a low turnout election, every vote is significant.”

Despite an abbreviated 7 day early voting period, the number of persons processed to vote during early voting for the runoff election topped the number of voters processed during the 12 day early voting period in the first round of voting, 5,526 to 5,369. Additionally, more voters have requested and returned mail ballots for this runoff election than those in the first round of voting. “Thus far, voter participation in SD6 is increasing, which is unusual in that runoff elections tend to attract fewer voters,” asserted Stanart.

Stanart also reminds Senate District 6 voters who requested a mail ballot but did not mail it in time, that they can take the mail ballot to their Election Day poll and vote a regular ballot. “If a voter who requested a mail ballot does not take the mail ballot to the poll the voter will have to vote a provisional ballot,” explained Stanart.

On Election Day, voters must vote in the polling location in which their precinct is voting. To find your Election Day polling location, voters should visit www.HarrisVotes.com or call 713 755 6965.

The Clerk’s office has now published this spreadsheet of Election Day polling locations, so check to see where you need to go before you head out to vote. For all the complaints people may have about the delay, the process, the candidates, whatever, the important thing is that in a few hours the people of SD06 will be represented again. I’m going to be away from the Internet for a few hours this evening, so I won’t be able to post about the result until late. Feel free to keep track of things in the comments. Good luck to Carol Alvarado and Sylvia Garcia, and may the best candidate win.

UPDATE: Sylvia Garcia is the winner. Congratulations to her.

It’s Sylvia versus Carol in the runoff

Pretty much as expected. Here’s the vote totals from the County Clerk:

Candidate Votes Pct ========================= Garcia 7,416 45.37 Alvarado 6,803 41.62 Bray 1,014 6.20 Olmos 461 2.82 Martinez 403 2.47 Reyes 125 0.76 Selva 73 0.45 Delgado 52 0.32

Two points of interest here. One is that the Election Day vote total was 7,747, which was 47.4% of the 16,347 total votes cast; the absentee ballots received in the last few days pushed the early vote total up to 8,600. That meant that the final total was even below my low-end estimate. As I said before, this could be a case where the runoff gets as many votes as the first round, maybe even a bit more. But any way you look at it this is uninspiring.

The other point is that while Garcia had a majority of the absentee ballots and a plurality of the in person early votes, Alvarado nipped her by 33 votes on Election Day. This is just a reminder that anything can happen in the runoff, and the only thing that really matters in elections like this is getting your people to show up. Forget how many votes anyone got in November. Special elections are a whole other ball game.

As for when the runoff will be, the Trib reminds us of the timeline.

Harris County elections officials have 10 days to canvass Election Day results, while Perry’s office has 14, according to the Secretary of State. The governor’s canvass can’t take place until the county finishes its canvass, and the governor has five days after his canvass to order the runoff election. The runoff would have to be set on a date between the 12th and 25th day after Perry ordered it, and it must take place on a Tuesday or a Saturday.

Basically, some time in the next seven weeks, which is to say some time between now and March 16. Don’t expect it much earlier than that.

UPDATE: From KHOU, via PDiddie:

Even some of Alvarado’s closest political allies privately concede defeating Garcia will be difficult, especially after trailing in this weekend’s election. Garcia’s lead in the general election will help her attract campaign funds from contributors hoping to buy favor with the next state senator.

Maybe. It’s about getting your people out, and as we can see it doesn’t necessarily take that many of them. I would not take any bets on the outcome of the runoff.

Election Day in SD06

It’s highly unlikely that this will settle anything, but today is Election Day in SD06. If you live in SD06 and have waited till today to cast your ballot, you can find your polling place here or here. I’ve already done my spiel about turnout and finance reports, so let’s see what the media has to say. Here’s the Texas Trib:

Alvarado and Garcia have campaigned at breakneck speeds after Perry officially announced Saturday’s election date on Dec. 13. The ensuing weeks have seen several candidate forums and fundraisers.

The most recent campaign finance filing period ended Jan. 18, with Garcia reporting about $164,000 raised since Jan. 1, expenditures of $300,000 and about $228,400 remaining in her war chest. A pre-election telegram report, which is filed to report contributions received after the date of the last report, shows Garcia raised an additional $14,500.

Alvarado raised about $185,000 during the same time period, spent about $315,000 and has about $110,000 left on hand. She also raised about $20,000 after the filing date, according to her telegram reports on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.

The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that plaintiff’s attorney and Democratic donor Steve Mostyn provided a bulk of Garcia’s support. Mostyn has donated more than $200,000 to Garcia throughout the course of the campaign, including about $187,000 in in-kind contributions from Mostyn’s Texas Organizing Project PAC.

The publication also noted that Alvarado received $22,000 from the Houston Police Officers Union and a $15,000 donation from HillCo lobbyists in Austin.

[…]

Garcia also hit Alvarado after the representative touted an endorsement from Stand for Children, an education advocacy group that Garcia said supports school vouchers.

“Sylvia Garcia strongly believes in fully funding our public schools, not using those dollars to help wealthy private schools take money away from our children,” Guerra said in a statement.

Hitting back, Alvarado said she has always supported public education and is on the side of educators and school districts.

“I am a product of HISD,” she said. “If there is any doubt on where I stand on public education, look at my voting record. I am the only one in this race with a record.”

In her release, Garcia includes a link to a document on the Stand for Children website called “What We Stand For: School Choice.”

“This paper begins with an overview of existing choice programs and a discussion of the current evidence available on these policies and their impact on student outcomes and equity,” the researchers write.

Calls to Stand for Children seeking clarification on where the group stands on the issue of vouchers were not immediately returned.

“School choice” means different things to different people, but I have zero doubt that Alvarado would oppose vouchers. There’s nothing in her record or her rhetoric to suggest otherwise. It would be nice to get some clarity from Stand For Children on this, but this will not keep me awake at night.

More from the Chron:

Alvarado said she was focusing on the issues the district’s voters care about: education, the economy and jobs, health care.

“We’re knocking on doors, phone-calling and keeping on message,” she said. “I’m happy we haven’t lowered ourselves into the gutter the way our opponent has.”

Garcia rejected the negative-campaigning charge. “Any time you compare a record – and that’s all we’re doing – your opponent will say you’re going negative. We’ll just have to let the voters decide.”

Whatever you think about the race so far, any real nastiness will come out in the runoff. That’s just how the world works.

[Dorothy] Olmos, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the State Board of Education in 2010, said she is working her ground game, as well.

“We’re knocking on doors and beating the bushes,” she said.

Olmos, a former teacher and hair salon operator, noted that she received 80,000 votes in the general election for the State Board of Education, 35,000 from Senate District 6.

Dream big, Dorothy. RW Bray got 38,201 votes in SD06 in November, and that’s about twice as many votes as will be cast in total for this race. As a point of comparison, Lawrence Allen, the incumbent Democrat in SBOE 4 that Olmos opposed in 2012, got over 77,000 votes in SD06. And just to fully beat this into submission, by my count there were 27,556 straight ticket Republican votes cast in SD06. This means that nearly 80% of Dorothy Olmos’ vote total in SD06 came from straight ticket voters, of which there will be none today, and that just under 7,500 people made the deliberate and conscious choice of voting for Dorothy Olmos last November. Of course, if she were to match that vote total in this election, she’d be a near lock for the runoff, but I feel pretty confident saying that ain’t gonna happen. I’ll have a brief post about who does make the runoff tonight and a fuller one tomorrow morning. Stace has more.

UPDATE: It will be Sylvia versus Carol for the runoff. No surprises at all.

Today’s the day

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

At long last, the death march known as Election 2012 will come to an end today, at which time we can begin gearing up for the next elections in 2013, 2014, and 2016, as well as dreading what the Legislature has in store for us. If you haven’t already voted, you can find your Harris County Election Day polling place here, or if you know your precinct number you can look up your location in this spreadsheet sent out by the County Clerk’s office. If all else fails, call the County Clerk’s office at 713 795 6965 for assistance.

Want more? You can get a free ride from Metro if you show your voter registration card. If you don’t have your voter registration card you can’t ride free on Metro but you can still vote as long as you have one of these other forms of identification. (Note: May not work in Williamson County.) As I expect that something like 60 to 70% of the votes have already been cast in the county for this election, I figure the lines won’t be too bad, but I still wouldn’t advise waiting till the last minute if you can help it. Remember, state law entitles you to at least two consecutive hours off on Election Day to vote, so take advantage of it as needed.

The best thing that can happen while people are voting is for nothing remarkable to happen. There will be Justice Department election monitors in Harris County to keep an eye on things in the event there is anything hinky going on. The less news there is to report about that, the better.

If you can’t bear the thought of having to wait till tomorrow morning to know what I think about what’s happened, you can tune into KPFT radio tonight from 7 to 10 to hear me blather on about it. I’ll be a guest on Mike Honig’s ThinkWing Radio show, which can be found at 90.1 FM on your dial or by going to KPFT.org and clicking on “Listen Live”, which naturally can be done from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. I may if I get ambitious dust off my badly neglected Twitter account (@kuff) and use that for quickie updates while waiting for my turn to speak. Don’t ask me about hashtags, I’m not that organized.

I will also be taping not one but two episodes of “Red, White, and Blue” on Houston PBS this week, one on national election results to run on the 9th and one on local election results to run on the 16th. By the time all this is done even I will be sick of me talking about the election. I’ll have more details on that later, in case you’ve ever wondered what I look like in a suit and tie.

Finally, an amusing tidbit to send you off to your polling or poll-watching place. Remember that story about campaign contributions made by people connected to the strip club Treasures to Republican candidates like Robert Talton? You can see all that on Talton’s eight day campaign finance report. If you look a little farther down on that report, however, you will also see a $15,000 expenditure made to the Texas Conservative Review for an advertisement. The TCR is of course owned by Talton’s law partner, Gary Polland. Guess who is also a lobbyist for Treasures? That would be Gary Polland. It’s like the circle of life, you know? I’m going to miss having these guys involved in the election.

Runoff Day today

Today is Runoff Day for the city of Houston. If you have not already voted in the City Council runoff elections, you have until 7 PM to do so. Go to www.harrisvotes.com and use the “Find Your Election Day Poll” option to determine where to cast your ballot. You don’t have to have voted in November to be qualified to vote today, you just have to be registered. It’s your last chance to vote this year, so don’t miss out. I’ll post election results later.

UPDATE: Here’s a Chron story about today’s runoffs.

Final early vote totals for the 2011 runoff

Here’s the final early vote tally for the 2011 City of Houston runoffs. A total of 23,030 in person and absentee ballots were cast in Harris County. Add in Fort Bend and the absentee stragglers, and I figure maybe 23,500 total early votes. For comparison, there were 25,382 votes cast in total for the 2007 runoff, so suffice it to say there was more interest this time around. As I said last time, based on this I’ll move the over/under line to 50,000 votes. You want other predictions, make them yourself in the comments.

Polls will be open on Runoff Day, December 10, from 7 AM to 7 PM. Find your polling place here if you haven’t already voted. The weather should be nice, and even if it weren’t there’s really no excuse. Vote, or don’t complain about who wins.

Your annual reminder that every vote matters

HISD Trustee, District III results, with 38 of 38 precincts reporting:

Manuel Rodriguez 2,401 50.25% Ramiro Fonseca 2,377 49.75%

There were 653 undervotes in this race, and turnout in the district was 11.61%. Fonseca carried Election Day by 78 votes, but had trailed by 102. At one point during the count, the Clerk had Fonseca up by one vote. What more do you need to know?

I will have recaps of the elections tomorrow morning. As of publication, about 95% of Harris County precincts are in. Mayor Parker appears to be headed to a just-over-50% victory, which beats the alternatives but is sure to get the chattering classes all fired up. The big surprise of the night to me is District A incumbent Brenda Stardig trailing her teabagger opponent, with the two of them headed for a runoff. We’ll see how that plays out. Other incumbents are all above 50% with the exception of Jolanda Jones, who will go into overtime again against Jack Christie. More tomorrow, see you then.

Election Day 2011

I’m sure you already know this, but today is the day to vote if you haven’t done so already. For Harris County, you can find your polling place here. You do not need any more identification than you’ve always needed, which is to say that your voter registration card is sufficient. Despite its earlier documentation malfunction, the County Clerk acknowledges as much in their Election Day press release. I say follow the Chron’s advice and report any election judge who tells you otherwise. Now go vote, and I’ll be back later with results.

Opening thoughts on the carnage

In no particular order…

– Republicans gain 22 seats in the State House, for a 99-51 advantage. That’s with Pete Gallego, Hubert Vo, and Donna Howard, all of whom had been trailing early, coming back to win. Howard’s margin of victory is a microscopic 15 votes, so she’ll have to survive a recount. No Republican seats flipped.

– Among many other things, I strongly suspect that’s a death blow for expanded gambling this session. Which is ironic, since polls pretty consistently showed that people prefer expanded gambling to nearly any other choice for bridging the budget gap. With this partisan margin in the House, you’ll need a majority of GOP legislators to favor a joint resolution for expanded gambling, and I don’t see that happening; if there had been as much as one third of the GOP caucus in favor of it in 2009, it would have passed then. Sam Houston Race Park may have a new, deep-pocketed investor with a record of getting other states to allow slot machines at racetracks, but I don’t think that will do them any good here.

– The good news, I suppose, from a Democratic perspective is that even with another Republican-drawn legislative map for 2012, there will be no shortage of takeover targets and quite a few Republicans who likely can’t win outside of such an extremely favorable environment. The bad news, part of it anyway, is that the ceiling is now much lower due to the wipeout in rural districts. If Democrats net 10 seats in 2012, they’re still short of where they were in 2002.

– Speaking of redistricting, the Republicans are now in the position of having to draw at least one of their members out of a seat next year, as West Texas will lose a district. The West Texas delegation comprises one former Speaker (Craddick), one potential future Speaker (Chisum), and a bunch of freshmen, all of whom are Republicans, so options like “target the Democrat” and “convince one of the old coots to retire” aren’t on the table. They may face a similar dilemma in East Texas, it’s too early to say.

– Dems may have targets a-plenty in two years, but where will the money for those races come from? The Mostyns spent a gazillion dollars and have less than nothing to show for it. Annie’s List saw nearly its entire slate erased. Losing a bunch of incumbents means losing a lot of fundraising capability.

– I don’t mean to be indelicate, but party chairs usually don’t survive results like these. I hope whoever succeeds Boyd Ritchie has a strategy in mind.

– Despite losing four State House members, Dallas County remained blue.

– In Harris County, Democrats did in fact do better on Election Day than in early voting, by about six points. Outside of Bill White, who ultimately did carry the county, and Loren Jackson, that wasn’t enough for a majority of the Election Day votes, let alone a winning total.

– Final turnout in Harris was over 779,000, which will likely stand as the high-water mark for several cycles. I think it’s safe to say Republicans got a significant number of people who don’t normally vote outside of Presidential years to come out this time. Two thirds of all votes cast in Harris were straight ticket votes, with Republicans reversing a two-cycle trend and taking a 50,000 vote advantage there. Democratic turnout overall wasn’t terrible – vote totals in the 310,000 to 340,000 range would have meant big wins in 2006, and would have won most races in 2002. Not this year.

– Among other things, Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s job just got a lot harder now that he’s lost his strongest ally on Commissioners Court. I don’t see a whole lot more progress being made on reducing jail overcrowding at this point.

– Despite trailing in early voting, Prop 1 (Renew Houston) squeaked through, for one of the very few good results of the day. Prop 3, to keep red light cameras, lost in a fairly close vote. If you had told me on Monday that only one of these two would pass, I’d have bet a lot of money on it being the other way around. Prop 2, which would have allowed for a six-month residency requirement for Council in the 2011 election only, lost big. That will make City Council redistricting more challenging.

– Red light cameras also lost in Baytown.

– Judith Cruz and Juliet Stipeche will face each other in a runoff for the open HISD Trustee seat. The lone Republican in that race, Dorothy Olmos, finished fourth. All things considered, you have to wonder if that represents a missed opportunity for the local GOP.

– The city of Dallas got wet. Good for them.

– The city of Austin had its own somewhat controversial ballot proposition to fund infrastructure improvements. It wound up passing easily.

– Harry Reid won re-election. In some ways, that may be the weirdest result of all. By all rights, Republicans should have taken the Senate, but Democrats held on there and in West Virginia and apparently Colorado, while being gifted Delaware after basically writing it off when Mike Castle jumped in.

– Finally, in regard to polling, Rasmussen Reports had a bad cycle, which included producing the single worst result, by a large margin. Polling in Texas understated Rick Perry’s margin by a bit, and overstated, in some cases by a lot, the performance of third-party candidates.

I’m sure I’ll have more later.

Electronic voting will be the norm today

From the County Clerk’s office:

ELECTRONIC VOTING TO BE THE PRINCIPAL METHOD OF VOTING ON ELECTION DAY IN HARRIS COUNTY

Houston, TX– As usual, on General Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, the eSlate electronic voting system will be the principal method of voting in Harris County. According to the County Clerk’s office, the deployment of electronic voting equipment will be virtually the same for this election compared to the last gubernatorial election.

”There will be enough electronic voting equipment at the polls to handle the expected Election Day turnout”, said Beverly Kaufman, the chief election official of the county. “Paper ballots will be available at every poll. But I strongly urge voters to cast their ballots using the eSlate electronic voting machines as it is the system which is most familiar to them.” The eSlate has been in use in Harris County since 2002.

The Election Day infrastructure and procedures will also be the same as the previous similar election: There will be 736 polling locations, five more than four years ago; The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; And, a voter may bring someone of their choosing to the polling place to provide assistance, provided it is not their labor union representative, employer, an agent of their employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union to which the voter belongs. The person providing assistance must sign the Affidavit of Voter Assistance and print his/her name on the poll list, to attest to the fact that they will not unduly influence the voter.

However, voters and the media will notice slight differences on Tuesday: Aside from the voters and the election clerks, there may be state and federal inspectors and poll watchers at some polls. [A Poll Watchers is a person appointed to observe the conduct of an election on behalf of a candidate, a political party, or the proponents or opponents of a measure (specific-purpose political action committees). The role of a poll watcher is to ensure the conduct of fair and honest elections]; and, the election night Central Counting Station will be at Reliant Arena.

Aside from the federal, state and county races on the ballot, some voters may see other items at the end their ballot such as a proposition or non-partisan election. To vote, a person may present one of the following documents: a voter registration card, a driver’s license, a picture identification of any kind, a birth certificate, a U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization certificate, a U.S passport, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. Voters who registered by mail and did not provide their driver’s license number or identification number will also need to provide another form of identification other than the voter registration certificate.

On Election Day, Texas law requires voters to vote at the precinct where they are registered to vote. Voters may find their election day polling location by visiting www.harrisvotes.com or calling 713 755 6965.

They also inform us that the results we are all waiting for may be a bit slower than usual to arrive:

Harris County Election Night returns may be slower in coming this year due to extra administrative procedures presiding election judges have to perform related to the possible use of paper ballots and because there will be only one central drop off location.

“The pace of the election returns will be dictated by how fast election judges complete their paper work and close down their polling location, and the sites’ proximity to the central drop-off station”, said Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, the chief elections officer of the county.

The County Clerk Office expects to release the initial election results report approximately at 7:00 p.m. on election night. The report will include the ballots cast during the early voting period and almost all mail ballots delivered to the County Clerk by the election night deadline.

As of the close of the early voting period, including absentee ballots, 444,648 persons had been processed to vote. It is estimated that almost 60 percent of all voters who will participate in this election may have voted before General Election Day.

The Harris County Election Night Central Drop-Off and Counting Station will be at Reliant Arena Hall D, Reliant Park. Media may park live trucks in the Drive Lane of Maroon Lot 15, in front of Reliant Arena Hall A. Election work areas in Hall D will be off limits to the media. There will be a designated media room and media work area.

As noted before, the prediction of 60% total early vote corresponds with a final turnout projection of about 750,000. I think that’s high, but we’re in uncharted waters, so who knows what could happen. I still expect the upper limit is more like 700,000, but we’ll know soon enough. In any event, today is the day we’ve been waiting for. Vote if you have not done so, and ensure your right to complain about the outcome afterward. I’ll be back later with updates and analysis.

From the “Grant me the grace to accept the things I cannot change” department

What’s that old saying? “Could be worse. Could be raining.”

As Democrats around the country girded for a midterm GOP tsunami, Bill White and his down-ballot Democratic cohorts spent the weekend tacking up political plywood and looking for signs, any signs, that the storm would not be as severe as the prognosticators were predicting.

One of those signs in Harris County, said Gerry Birnberg, Harris County Democratic Party chairman, was that early vote totals turned out to be “pretty much a dead heat” after an initial surge from enthusiastic Republicans.

Still there were storm clouds looming for local Democratic candidates, Birnberg noted on Sunday. And he meant real storm clouds.

“The wild card in the deck is the weather,” Birnberg said. Forecasters are predicting Election Day thunderstorms for the Houston area, and that might make it difficult for a party that needs a large turnout to make up the Republican advantage in mail-in and early voting ballots.

SciGuy suggests the weather ought to be pretty good during voting hours today. You can verify or falsify that yourself by just looking out your window.

As far as the differences between early voting and Election Day are concerned, a survey of the 2002 and 2006 results shows that Democrats have done about three points better on Election Day than before it. Of course, with a handful of exceptions Republican candidates still won on Election Day in those years. Still, the difference moved the needle a point or two in the Democratic direction, which may be enough if the vote tallies are fairly even to begin with.

That has to be qualified by noting that in those elections, the vast bulk of votes were cast on Election Day, which will surely not be the case this year. However, if the surge in Early Voting is similar in nature to what we saw in 2008, when scads of people who had formerly voted on Election Day changed their behavior, then we could see a much bigger difference in performance. In 2008, when many more Democrats voted early, Republicans gained between six and eight points on Election Day. I doubt we’ll see anything that dramatic, but I do believe the Republican well isn’t as deep today.

Finally, I should note that in all three years, including 2008, Libertarian candidates did better, by about a point in 2008 and a half a point in 2002 and 2006, on Election Day. I’m sure there’s a slacker joke in there somewhere, but I’m not feeling it right now. Green candidates did a smidge better on Election Day in 2002, in case you were wondering. Make of that what you will.

Runoff wrapup

Here are the Republican and Democratic runoff results from yesterday. With the exception of Marc Brown, who came from behind to defeat Danny Dexter in the GOP runoff for the 180th Criminal District Court, everyone who led in early voting won. In the one statewide contest, the establishment-backed Debra Lehrmann, a family court judge from Fort Worth, held off social conservative favorite Rick Green for the Place 3 Supreme Court nomination. The more mainstream Marsha Farney defeated Brian Russell in the runoff for the Republican nomination to replace wingnut Cynthia Dunbar on the State Board of Education. Those were setbacks for the far right, but they did well in legislative races.

Republican voters in Lubbock and four other counties ousted long-time state Rep. Jones in favor of Charles Perry, a Tea Party organizer who campaigned for change and apparently got voters worked up about his candidacy: The runoff drew 17,501 voters — more than most primaries in March turned out. There’s no Democrat ahead, so Perry will take a chair in the House next January.

[…]

John Frullo upset the establishment candidate in Lubbock’s other race for the Texas House, an open seat where Republican Rep. Carl Isett decided not to seek reelection. Isett endorsed Frullo and helped finance and run his campaign. And they overcame endorsements from the likes of state Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, for Mark Griffin. The former Texas Tech regent nearly won the race in March, but a last minute mailer in that round undercut his lead and set the table for his loss in the runoff. Frullo will face Democrat Carol Morgan in November.

Frullo, Perry, and Van Taylor in Plano all had significant support from Tea Party supporters and from voters upset with incumbents in general. And their victories came in a week in which legislative Republicans pulled together a new group designed to co-opt some Tea Party ideas and to repair the fracture that appeared in this year’s GOP primaries, and to do so before the November general election.

Taylor beat former Plano City Councilwoman Mabrie Griffith Jackson, who was endorsed by former Rep. Brian McCall. Taylor had the Tea Party folks (many of whom supported the third candidate, Wayne Richard, in the March primary) and also had endorsements from two other Collin County lawmakers, Reps. Jodie Laubenberg of Parker and Ken Paxton of McKinney. That wasn’t even close, with Taylor — dubbed “Moving Van” by Jackson for his recent move into the district — pulling 58 percent in the runoff. There’s no Democrat in that race, so Taylor is on his way to Austin.

The only legislative runoff on the Democratic side also saw an incumbent getting ousted.

State Rep. Norma Chávez, the brawler of the El Paso delegation, lost the most important fight of her 14-year political career Tuesday night.

Assistant County Attorney Naomi Gonzalez ousted Chávez in a bitter, high-dollar runoff election for the House District 76 seat.
Personal attacks between the two Democrats were routine as they racked up contributions totaling nearly $1 million. Much of the money went for negative ads.

Gonzalez, 31, talked less about herself than her opponent. She made her campaign a referendum against Chávez, 49.

She said that Chávez’s confrontational approach, one that put her at odds with other members of the El Paso delegation, had rendered her ineffective.

“This was a tough race, but we were focused on change, and the message resonated with the voters,” Gonzalez said. “We talked about the issues, the good and the bad. In the end, people decided to restore integrity in the district.”

The Trib has a full report of results.

Finally, a word on turnout.

Turnout in Harris County was less than 1.5 percent, except in the Humble-Kingwood area, where the [HD127] race between [winner Dan] Huberty and [Susan] Curling had grown increasingly bitter and expensive in recent weeks.

“Kingwood always comes out to vote,” said election judge Jzarela-Arethea “Yogi” Dougherty at Humble Independent School District’s James D. Eggers Instructional Support Center. “They’d come out at midnight if the doors were open.”

“It’s always high,” said [Jared] Woodfill, the county’s GOP chairman [who won his own runoff], “because it’s a Republican stronghold.” Woodfill, who was involved in a runoff himself, said the normally high interest among Kingwood area voters was stoked even higher by the expensive race between Huberty and Curling.

Woodfill’s Democratic Party counterpart, Gerry Birnberg, attributed low voter turnout in his party’s runoff to general voter satisfaction with the candidates running. “I believe that a reason there’s a muted turnout is because the candidates are all easily qualified,” Birnberg said.

Final turnout on the Republican side was 42,918; for the Democrats it was 15,109. Both totals were higher than I thought they’d be. Note that on the Democratic side, turnout in this year’s runoffs was higher than it was in 2006, when there were contests for Senate, Lt. Governor, and the first Borris Miles/Al Edwards matchup. In that context, I’d say Democratic turnout was pretty decent.

Runoff results

Going by early vote totals, it seems likely that the remaining Democratic nominees will be Tanner Garth, Bob Thomas, Bruce Kessler, and Deborah Wright. On the Republican side, Danny Dexter and James Lombardino look to be in good shape for their judicial races, while Dan Huberty has the inside track for HD127, and Jared Woodfill appears to have hung on as Party chair.

For state results, the Trib has a live wire and a liveblog going. Incumbent State Rep. Delwin Jones is in trouble, but Fred Brown is leading. Debra Lehrman is leading for the Supreme Court, and non-wingnut (at least, non-endorsed-by-Cynthia-Dunbar) SBOE candidate Marsha Farney is out front. The polls are just now closing in El Paso, so it’s too early to say if State Rep. Norma Chavez will hold off challenger Naomi Gonzalez or not. I’ll update later when more results are in.

UPDATE: Marc Brown has mostly erased Danny Dexter’s lead but still trails by about 300 votes. Other Harris County races are the same. Delwin Jones has lost, Fred Brown has won, and Norma Chavez trails by a bit after early voting. Lehrman and Farney continue to lead.

UPDATE: According to the Trib, Lerhman has been declared the winner in the Supreme Court race, and it’s hard to see how Farney fails to win. Those results make this more of a mixed night for the hard right. They knocked off Delwin Jones, and Van Taylor took Brian McCall’s open seat, so they did well at the local level, but not statewide or in SBOE10. It’s looking like a late night in El Paso, with Gonzalez leading Chavez by less than 200 votes but with more than 60% of precincts counted.

Runoff Day is today

Polls are open from 7 AM to 7 PM today. There aren’t many voting locations, so check where you need to vote before you head out.

The Republican Party will open 72 polling locations and the Democratic Party 77. The runoff elections will decide 15 contests in which a candidate did not receive a majority of the votes on March 2nd.

Kaufman reminds voters who participated in the March primary elections must vote in the same party’s elections in tomorrow’s runoffs.

For assistance finding a polling location voters may call:

–The County Clerk’s office, 713-755-6965;
–The Voter Registrar’s office, 713-368-2200;
–The Harris County Democratic Party, 713-802-0085;
–The Harris County Republican Party, 713-838-7900;

Voters may also visit www.harrisvotes.com or www.hcvoter.net to find their polling location.

Here’s a better link for where to go to vote. For more on the races, see the Texas Trib and Paul Burka.

Following the election results

I’ll be at my precinct convention tonight, and after that I’ll be off to at least one results-watching event. I hope to post some results this evening, and whatever I don’t get to I’ll post in the morning. Obviously, there’s a lot of races, so have patience with me. Or just skip the middleman and get your state results here and your Harris County results here. We’ll figure out What It All Means later.

Oh, and if you feel like making a prediction or two, go right ahead. This may be a crazy night.

UPDATE: Some early vote results are in. Bill White is over 75%. Say “Goodnight, Gracie”. Rick Perry is over 50%, but not by much. The real shocker to me is seeing incumbent Railroad Commish Victor Carrillo getting trounced. Good news: Thomas Ratliff holds a slight lead over the wacko Don McLeroy. Not-sure-what-it-means news: Geraldine “Tincy” Miller is trailing. We’ll see how these play out. Fasten your seat belts.

Election Day voting locations

For those of you who prefer old-school Election Day voting, here are your precinct locations for Tuesday:

Democratic Primary

Republican primary

Note that some precincts only have one party or the other at them. Primaries are run by the respective parties, and if there aren’t enough voters at a given location for a party, they’ll combine it with some other precincts. Just because you vote there in November doesn’t mean you’ll vote there in March, so check your locations before you head out.

And if you vote in the Democratic primary, be sure to come back to your E-Day location for the precinct convention. You can do that whether you voted early or not, and you can also be nominated to attend the Senate convention even if you’re not there, as long as you did vote. You can also bring one or more resolutions to be voted on by the convention attendees. Resolutions that are adopted get taken to the Senate District conventions, and if there is enough support for them there, to the state convention in June, where they can be voted on to be part of the state party platform. Here’s a list of suggested resolutions from the Progressive Action Alliance, along with instructions on what to do with them. Be sure to print at least three copies to bring with you. This list is from 2008, so a few of these are out of date, and for the record a few of them I would not vote for. Most of them are pretty basic to the Democratic Party philosophy. This is your chance to really influence what the TDP stands for, so take the opportunity to support one of these, or follow the instructions to write your own, and bring it to the precinct convention. I’ll be there to preside over Precinct 3, so come on out and stay involved, but whatever else you do, make sure you vote.

UPDATE: Stace has a good resolution as well.

Initial thoughts on the runoffs

I’ll go through them one race at a time, with the unofficial vote totals minus Montgomery County for each. Once I have precinct results, I’ll go through those and do a more detailed analysis.

Mayor

Annise Parker – 81,971, 52.78%
Gene Locke – 73,331, 47.22%

This was perhaps a bit closer than one might have thought given the most recent poll. At a guess, given the Fort Bend County results, I’d say that African American voters broke more strongly to Locke than had been previously indicated, but that there just weren’t that many of them in the end. Certainly, all the predictions that turnout for the runoff would exceed that of the general were way off. There were about 87,000 votes cast Saturday in Harris County, far less than the 112,000 predicted by County Clerk Beverly Kaufman. In the end, 67,653 early votes were cast in the Mayoral race, or 43.8% of the final Harris County tally of 154,618. In other words, this runoff was just like the last three runoffs in terms of early vote share compared to that of the general. I called it right, and I’m going to gloat a little about that.

Parker’s election has made the national news, and she’s a trending topic on Twitter. Lots of people are going to be talking about this for a long time. I don’t think we fully realize yet the impact her election will have. I think this will make an awful lot of people take a second and third look at Houston, and may finally make some of my progressive colleagues outside of Texas realize that there’s more to the state than just Austin.

Oh, and Parker made history in more ways than one, too. Go Rice Owls!

Controller

Ronald Green – 74,262, 51.48%
MJ Khan – 69,991, 48.52%

Green won early in-person voting by a fairly wide margin, but trailed in absentee ballots and also in Harris on Election Day. This suggests to me that as was the case in November, the early electorate was much more Democratic than the Election Day electorate. That was the case in Harris County last November as well. I sure hope the local Democratic strategists are paying attention to that. Green carried Fort Bend by 2,016 votes but would have won anyway. Oddly, I was more nervous about his chances going into today than I was about Parker’s, but less so about them once the early results were in. I figured if there was an African American surge that could carry Locke to a win, it would bring Green in its wake as well.

City Council At Large #1

Stephen Costello – 67,842, 52.15%
Karen Derr – 62,249, 47.85%

I had no feel at all for this race. The only thing that would have surprised me was a not-close result. Derr led coming into Election Day, but Costello pulled it out. If I had to guess, I’d say his late TV blitz – after not seeing any of his ads in months, I saw it four times this week – was a factor. Surely having such a large financial advantage should mean something. Costello had a fair amount of crossover support, and while I’m sad to see Derr lose I think he’ll make a fine Council member.

City Council At Large #2

Sue Lovell – 68,676, 54.08%
Andrew Burks – 58,317, 45.92%

Lovell has the easiest win of the night in the race with the highest undervote. Make of that what you will.

City Council At Large #5

Jolanda Jones – 69,763, 50.61%
Jack Christie – 68,080, 49.39%

Let this be Exhibit A for how hard it is to unelect a sitting Council member in Houston. It’s hard for me to imagine conditions more favorable for Jack Christie going into Election Day. Ultimately, he could not overcome the Democratic tilt of the early vote. Jones won early in person voting by a 58-42 margin, easily the widest of any candidate, but Christie ran strongly on Saturday, capturing Harris by 53.5-46.5, which combined with the absentee vote put him over the top in this county. Unfortunately for him, Fort Bend was to Jones what it was to Lee Brown in 2001, and that was enough for her to hang on. I voted for Jones, I’m very glad she won, but I have nothing bad to say about Christie, who ran a clean and honorable race. I sincerely hope that Council Member Jones uses this experience to help her channel her considerable talent and smarts more productively.

Houston City Council, District A

Brenda Stardig – 9,258, 56.59%
Lane Lewis – 7,103, 43.41%

Houston City Council, District F

Al Hoang – 4,681, 52.72%
Mike Laster – 4,180, 47.28%

The City of Houston proved its Democratic bona fides, but Districts A and F remained Republican. I’ll be interested to see how the citywide candidates did in each of these districts. Beyond that, my congratulations to the winners and my condolences to the losers. Oh, and in my favorite bit of trivia for the evening, Laster and Hoang split the Fort Bend vote evenly, with 19 ballots apiece.

HISD Trustee, District I

Anna Eastman – 4,959, 50.99%
Alma Lara – 4,766, 49.01%

HISD Trustee, District IX

Larry Marshall – 6,295, 51.15%
Adrian Collins – 6,012, 48.85%

A bad night for the Houston Federation of Teachers, as both of their candidates lost. Conversely, a good night for the HISD Parent Visionaries, who ultimately went three for three in the Trustee races. Lara had a slight early lead, which Eastman overcame, while Marshall led all along for yet another close escape. Again, my congratulations to the winners, and my condolences to the losers.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll have more when the precinct results are in. Chron coverage is here, here, here, and here. Let me know what your thoughts are about this election.

Runoff results open thread

As tonight is Lights in the Heights, I will be paying attention to things other than election results this evening. Assuming you’re not at an election night party, you can follow results as they are posted here or on the interwebs in various places like Mayoral Musings, Houston Politics, KHOU, and on Twitter via the #houmayor hashtag. As I will be only periodically online this evening, please use this as an open thread to post whatever observations you’ve got. I’ll add in results as I can.

UPDATE: Early results are in:

Parker – 33,945 votes, 50.99%
Locke – 32,623 votes, 49.01%

Gonna be a long night. Ronald Green leads MJ Khan by 53.13-46.87%, Jolanda Jones and Sue Lovell also lead by similar amounts, while Karen Derr has a less than 500 vote lead on Stephen Costello.

UPDATE: 99 of 738 Harris County precincts are in. Adding in Fort Bend early results.

Parker – 40,890
Locke – 38,994

No clue about Montgomery. Slow, slow slow…

UPDATE: 256 of 738 Harris County precincts reporting, Fort Bend all in:

Parker – 53,174
Locke – 50,162

FB turnout in November, 2780. FB turnout in December, 2932. Don’t think that’s gonna do it for Locke, but as yet I’ve no idea which precincts in Harris have reported, so who knows. Still no clue about Montgomery.

UPDATE: 317 of 738 Harris County precincts reporting:

Parker – 57,875
Locke – 54,006

Parker’s election day lead in Harris is 55.75% to 44.25%. Sure wish I knew which precincts were in.

UPDATE: Coming in a bit faster now. 389 precincts in Harris County reporting:

Parker – 62,684
Locke – 57,939

Parker leads Harris County by a 53%-47% margin.

UPDATE: 497 Harris County precincts reporting. Here are all the citywide results so far:

Parker – 71,326
Locke – 64,076

Green – 65,192
Khan – 60,594

Costello – 58,690
Derr – 55,020

Lovell – 60,310
Burks – 50,694

Jones – 61,471
Christie – 58,647

The difference between Andrew Burks and a candidate with a real base of support can be seen in the Fort Bend results. Locke, Green, and Jones all won Fort Bend by 2000+ votes. Burks won it by 1004 votes. Not that it would matter, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

UPDATE: It’s over. All precincts are in, Locke has conceded, Annise Parker has been elected Mayor of Houston. Hot damn! Read her statement here. My congratulations to Team Parker for a job well done, and my thanks to Gene Locke for his service to Houston and his gracious concession speech.

Vote today!

Today is Runoff Day. If you did not vote during Early Voting, this is your lasr chance. The following is from the Harris County Clerk’s office:

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, the chief elections officer of the County, made available a list of important election related facts voters should be aware of as they go to the polls to participate in Saturday’s Dec. 12th Joint Runoff Election:

  • On Saturday, Dec. 12th, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • To participate in the Joint Runoff Election a person must be registered to vote in the City of Houston, City of Bellaire or District 1 or 9 of the Houston Independent School District.
  • Eligible voters that did not vote on Nov. 3rd may vote in the Dec. 12th Joint Runoff Election.
  • On Election Day a voter must vote at the poll the precinct where he/she is registered to vote is voting.
  • There will be 11 elections on the Joint Runoff ballot. However, the address in which a voter is registered will determine the number of contests that will appear on the ballot. A voter may visit the Tax Assessor Collectors website to find out which political subdivisions are connected to the voter’s address:http://www.hctax.net/ASP/streetguide/frameset.asp.

  • Acceptable forms of identification to vote include: 1. A voter registration certificate; 2. a driver’s license or personal identification card issued to the voter by the Department of Public Safety or a similar document issued to the voter by an agency of another state, regardless of whether the license or card has expired; 3. a form of identification containing the voter’s photograph that establishes the voter’s identity; 4. a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the voter’s identity; 5. United States citizenship papers issued to the voter; 6. a United States passport issued to the voter; 7. official mail addressed to the voter, by name, from a governmental entity; 8. a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.
  • State law provides that a voter may bring someone of their choosing to the polling place to provide assistance. The person providing assistance must sign the Affidavit of Voter Assistance and print his/her name on the poll list, to attest to the fact that they will not unduly influence the voter.
  • Individuals who go vote on Election Day and are not found on the poll book may vote provisionally. [The acceptance of the provisional vote will be determined by an independent Ballot Board during the period that falls between Election Day and before the results are made official by the governing authority (City of Houston) who ordered the election. Some, but not all, of the factors the Board considers in making a determination on the provisional ballot include, is the person in question actually registered voter in one of the political subdivisions who had items on the ballot? And, did the person vote at the correct polling location?]

For more information pertaining to Election Day polling locations, voters may call 713.755.6965 or visit the Harris County Clerk Elections website, www.harrisvotes.com. To check on voter registration status, voters should call the Voter Registrar at 713-368-2200.

Do be aware that for runoffs, some polling places that were open for the general election may not be open this time around. Here’s a message about that from the Harris County Democratic Party:

The Harris County Democratic Party wants to remind voters that they may confirm their Election Day polling location by visiting our website, www.hcdp.org, or by calling our office at (713) 802-0085. Our hardworking volunteers and staff will be happy to assist you in locating your polling location for the runoff election this coming Saturday, December 12. The polls will be open from 7am to 7pm.

With every election, we hear countless stories of voters discovering too late that their polling locations have changed. Polling locations tend to change or move during runoff elections. Several precincts can be combined and assigned to a single polling location during runoff elections.

The Runoff Election on Saturday, Dec. 12, is being conducted for races in the City of Houston, City of Bellaire, and the Houston Independent School District.

The Harris County Democratic Party urges all voters to call the office at (713) 802-0085 or visit our website at www.hcdp.org and confirm your Election Day polling location.

Here’s a reminder from the Chron about why you should vote, and a reminder about who they think you should vote for. Hair Balls has more.

It’s all about Roy

This article is supposedly about how Annise Parker and Gene Locke have started to get their campaigns back on track for the runoff, but the vast majority of it is about Roy Morales, who is apparently the most famous fourth-place finisher ever.

Annise Parker and Gene Locke, contenders in a Dec. 12 runoff, were favorites from the beginning, while Roy Morales, the only Republican in the race, had little money, minuscule name recognition and single-digit poll numbers just a few days before the election. In the end, though, the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel placed only a few percentage points behind Peter Brown, a city councilman who blanketed the airwaves with his “blueprint” for Houston and poured nearly $4 million of his family fortune into the race. The Morales surge probably knocked Brown out of the runoff.

“I didn’t take votes from Brown,” Morales said in an interview Wednesday. “I recaptured my votes from him. Mr. Brown was trying to portray himself as a conservative. Peter is a liberal.”

Analysts said Morales took advantage of media opportunities that put him on the same stage as his opponents to send a clear message.

In every campaign appearance — and there were more than 40 with all four major candidates — Morales beat the drum of Republican Party orthodoxy. His message was a one-note sonata: I’m conservative, these other people aren’t. I’ll cut your taxes, these other people won’t.

I’ll stipulate that this was Roy’s vote-maximizing strategy, and that he got a good bang for his buck. And in the end, that strategy was good for 20% of the vote and a fourth-place finish. Doesn’t seem like a productive path towards actually winning an election and doing all that tax-cutting you want to do, but maybe I just don’t understand the nature of conservative victory.

Putting this another way, this strategy netted Roy 35,802 votes. In 2007, with an electorate that was 2/3 the size of this one, Roy got 34,235 votes. At this rate, he’ll be poised to break through in 2035 or so. Run, Roy, run!

Anyway. Martha deals with the extremely spurious claim that GOP volunteers made 200,000 calls on Roy’s behalf on Election Day. (Did anyone get one of these? Seems to me if they did do all that dialing, a fair number of my readers were probably on the receiving end. Leave a comment and let me know.) Let’s take them at their word for a minute, and assume that had there not been this massive GOTV effort on Roy’s part, he’d have done as well on Election Day as he had in early voting. He got 15.37% of the early vote, compared to 22.86% on Tuesday. Plug the numbers in, and he’d have gotten 17,499 votes instead of the 26,030 he did get, for a difference of 8,531. That’s actually a pretty decent return – in fact, if you add another 8,531 votes to Roy’s final total, he’d have edged past Gene Locke and would be in the runoff with Annise Parker. Kind of makes you wonder why they weren’t doing all this for him from the beginning, doesn’t it? If you believe they really did it for him in the end, that is.

Where was I? Oh, yes, what the headline of this story says it’s about, which is the restart of the Parker and Locke campaigns.

Parker and Locke jumped right back into campaign mode Wednesday. After an early TV appearance, Parker went to City Hall to present her monthly financial report to City Council. Locke also was on early-morning TV.

Both worked the phones to woo potential newcomers to their campaigns, thank supporters and raise money for what many expect will be a hard-fought contest.

In an e-mail to supporters, Parker was blunt about her financial requirements.

“I need to raise more than one million dollars in the next four weeks to compete with the projected spending of my opponent,” she said.

As noted, Annie’s List is already beating the drum for Parker, and there’s a fundraiser hosted by Roland Garcia, who resigned from the Sports Authority to back Parker, on Tuesday. I’m sure Locke will have similar stuff going on, though word of it has not hit my Inbox as yet. Much more to come, I’m sure.

Election results thread

It’s gonna be a long night…Here are the early vote results from Harris County.

Candidate Votes Pct ========================= Locke 17,183 28.76 Parker 17,169 28.74 Brown 15,387 25.75 Morales 9,451 15.82 Green 19,389 39.97 Holm 16,939 32.26 Khan 15,631 29.77

That’s Harris County early and absentee votes only. Fort Bend is here, though there are fewer than 1000 votes out there.

In the Council elections, Stephen Costello and Karen Derr lead in At Large #1, CO Bradford has a huge lead, enough to win tonight, in #4, Sue Lovell is just below 50% in #2, and Jolanda Jones is leading but under 45% in #5, with Jack Christie about ten points behind her. In the district races, Brenda Stardig and Lane Lewis lead in A, Al Hoang and Mike Laster lead in F, and Oliver Pennington is at about 57% in G. None of the district incumbents is in any danger.

Like I said, we could be here awhile. Buckle up and get ready. More to come as it comes in.

UPDATE: The race of the evening so far is in HCC District 3, where Diane Olmos Guzman leads Mary Ann Perez by one vote, 827 to 826. Can you say “RECOUNT”?

UPDATE: With 85 city precincts in, Parker takes the lead, and Brown falls back a bit. The Controller’s race and At Large #5 tighten up a bit.

UPDATE: With 173 of 734 Houston precincts reporting, the score in Harris County is:

Candidate Votes Pct ========================= Parker 24,117 29.65 Locke 21,715 26.70 Brown 19,983 24.57 Morales 14,712 18.10 Green 26,036 36.67 Holm 22,725 32.00 Khan 22,245 31.33

No new data in Fort Bend yet. Sue Lovell is a hair below 49%, Jolanda Jones is at 43 and change. Bradford and Pennington remain above 50%, other top contenders are the same, with Mike Laster catching up a bit on Al Hoang.

In that HCC race, Mary Ann Perez is now six – count ’em! – votes ahead of Diane Olmos Guzman. Alma Lara has nudged over 50% in HISD I, while Larry Marshall has dropped a bit in HISD IX.

UPDATE: I should note that KHOU, our gracious hosts for this evening, has a really nice election returns page, which integrates the Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery County results for the city elections.

UPDATE: Nearly 37% of precincts are in, and Parker is up a bit more. Interestingly, as Martha pointed out on Twitter, Roy is running second on EDay votes alone. Weird. I just bet Bob Stein five bucks that Roy will not finish ahead of Brown. He made me give him three points, but I still think I’ll win.

UPDATE: 56% of the votes are in for Harris County, and Parker is over 30% there. However, Locke netted 1700 votes over her in Fort Bend, which makes it a bit closer for him. KHOU has her up by 5000 votes. Roy keeps doing well on EDay – could it have been the biker ad? He still trails Brown, but it’s close. Bob Stein just trash-talked me. MJ Khan is in second place in the Controller’s race by 45 votes. Alma Lara is down at 45%, and Anna Eastman up at 40%, in the HISD I race. Jolanda Jones keeps losing ground, while Sue Lovell is over 50% on EDay in Harris; she still may not break 50% overall, however, though she nipped Andrew Burks in Fort Bend.

UPDATE: We’re at about 75% of precincts in, and at this point I can’t see how it’s not Parker versus Locke in the runoff. The only suspense is the final margin, and whether or not I will owe Bob Stein $5. Oh, and whether MJ Khan, who currently leads Pam Holm by about 400 votes, holds on to get in to the runoff for Controller.

Twenty percent

Turnout projections for this election, originally at 25%, are being revised downward as polling places report slow going.

Richard Murray, political science professor at the University of Houston, said the 25 percent turnout estimate may be optimistic. At midday, he lowered his expectation to 20 percent.

“It’s surprising to me that it’s so low,” he said. “Disheartening? Not to me personally. When the electorate shrinks, you get people who know more about the issues and about individual candidates in particular. It reduces somewhat the behavior that’s generated by TV ads. I don’t think its going to have any devastating effects.”

I suppose there could still be a rush of folks on the way home from work – I just got two emails from the Parker campaign with the subject line “ALERT: Polls Close in Less Than 2 Hours!”, so the candidates are certainly still working it. But don’t be surprised if fewer than 200,000 votes total are cast in the city. I don’t know who that benefits and who it hurts, but it does suggest to me that there may not be much drop in participation from this election to the runoff. Expect to get a lot of contact from the surviving campaigns if you did your civic duty this time around.

As a reminder, tune in to KHOU this evening after 7 PM to see me play a pundit on television. I’ll be posting updates here as well from the studio.

Election Day

You know the drill by now. You can find polling locations here, and you can see a Google map and download a spreadsheet of voting locations in the open Council districts at Greg’s place. The Tax Assessor’s office would like you to know that they are available to help if you have any questions as well. If you look over on the sidebar, there’s a widget to follow Houston Mayor-related chatter on Twitter, courtesy of Greg. And if you still haven’t made up your mind in a race or two, you can listen to my interviews with the candidates to help you decide.

I have not said much about who I am supporting in the Mayor’s race. I wanted to keep an open mind and give all the candidates an opportunity to convince me to support them. In the end, I gave my vote to the candidate who started out as my preference, Annise Parker. I respect Peter Brown and Gene Locke, and I believe either one of them would do a good job if elected. But I believe Annise Parker is the best candidate, and I am happy to vote for her. I hope you will consider voting for her as well.

CNN ran a story yesterday about Parker and Houston’s mayoral election. They also talked to me about the race, which you can see at the end of the clip:

If you missed seeing that, you will have another opportunity to miss seeing me on TV tonight, when I join Nancy Sims on KHOU to talk about today’s election. My advice would be to go to an Election Night party and watch us from there. Happy voting!

Early voting: Out with a bang

Today was by far the heaviest day of Early Voting, with 17,072 ballots cast, which is nearly as much as Wednesday and Thursday combined, and also nearly as much as the final day of 2003. In the end, 71,368 in-person ballots and 9,148 absentee ballots were cast, for a total of 80,516; the comparable numbers from 2003 were 76,285 and 17,583.

Now then, to project final turnout. I’ve decided to treat absentee and in-person votes separately. In 2003, going by the countywide Metro referendum returns, there were 20,151 total absentee ballots. That means that 87.3% of all absentee ballots had been returned by the end of early voting. Assuming a similar rate of return this year, that’s 10,479 absentee ballots. In 2003, a grand total of 353,456 in person ballots were cast, which is to say that 21.6% of them were early. Using those numbers, and assuming that 75% of the total ballots will be city of Houston, we get the following:

% early Mail Person Total Houston =========================================== 21.5 10,479 331,949 342,428 256,821 25.0 10,479 285,472 295,591 221,963 30.0 10,479 237,893 248,372 186,279 35.0 10,479 203,909 214,388 160,791

That compares to 298,110 ballots in the 2003 Mayor’s race. I guess we ought to hope that early voting habits haven’t changed that much since 2007, despite the surge in pre-Election Day participation from 2008. If you force me to guess, I’ll go with the 25% scenario, but I wouldn’t bet my own money on it. What do you think?

Early voting: One more day

Tomorrow is the last day of early voting. If you haven’t voted by 7 PM on Friday, you’ll need to show up at your precinct polling location on Tuesday to have a say in this election. Here’s a press release from County Clerk Beverly Kaufman with some information about how things will be on Tuesday:

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman announced today that 728 polls will be open and ready to receive registered voters on Tuesday, Nov. 3, General Election Day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. According to the Clerk, 6,600 pieces of election equipment will be allocated throughout the county and almost 5,000 election clerks will be working during this election.

“The election infrastructure is set. I strongly encourage registered voters who did not vote during the early voting period to consider doing so on Election Day”, said Clerk Kaufman, the chief elections officer of the County. “This election cycle may not be as captivating as a national election, but it may be more important.”

During the upcoming Harris County Joint Election 120 individuals will be vying for 40 positions in political subdivisions within County. Of those, sixty-two are candidates for City of Houston public office, including the positions of mayor, controller and city council. Overall, there a total of 60 contests on the ballot. Of those, 20 are propositions. The most prominent contests are the State constitutional amendments.

“Voters should be aware that anytime an election includes statewide propositions those items will appear first on the ballot. In this instance, it means that all voters, whether they reside in Houston or other political subdivisions, will see the 11 state propositions at the top of their ballot before they see anything else.”

The County Clerk reminded voters that the law provides that a voter can ONLY vote in contests offered by a political subdivision which is connected to the physical address in which a voter is registered to vote. To find out which political subdivisions are connected to a voter’s address, a voter may visit the following link on the Tax Assessor Collectors website: http://www.hctax.net/ASP/streetguide/frameset.asp. An individual may also check voter registration status with the Tax office by calling 713. 368. 2200 or by visiting http://www.tax.co.harris.tx.us/Voter/voter.aspx.

The Clerk also reminded voter to know where they are going to vote before leaving their homes on Election Day. The law provides that on Election Day a voter must vote at the poll where the precinct the voter is registered to vote is voting. For voter identification purposes at the poll, registered voters are urged to take at least ONE of the following acceptable documents:

1. A voter registration certificate;

2. a driver’s license or personal identification card issued to the voter by the Department of Public Safety or a similar document issued to the voter by an agency of another state, regardless of whether the license or card has expired;

3. a form of identification containing the voter’s photograph that establishes the voter’s identity;

4. a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the voter’s identity;

5. United States citizenship papers issued to the voter;

6. a United States passport issued to the voter;

7. official mail addressed to the voter, by name, from a governmental entity;

8. A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.

For more Election Day information voters may visit www.harrisvotes.com and click ‘Find Election Day Poll and View Voter Specific Ballot.’ Voters may also call 713.755.6965, Harris County’s automated election information line.

And we now have the early voting totals from today, in which 8722 showed up to vote. The good news is that this was the best day so far, slightly better than yesterday. The bad news is that this total trailed its counterpart from 2003 by over 3000 ballots. I don’t expect tomorrow to be anything like the 18,000+ votes that were cast on the final day of early voting in 2003, but even with the predicted rain there probably will be more than 70,000 in-person votes cast, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 fewer than 2003. Where this year has really lagged is in mail ballots – 7200 so far, versus over 14,000 at this point then, and over 17,000 total. I don’t know what that bodes for final turnout, but I’ll be thinking about it and will make my guess sometime after the final numbers are in. In the meantime, if you haven’t voted yet, please do so soon. Thanks very much.

Gonzalez wins in District H

In the end, it wasn’t that close.

Houston police officer Ed Gonzalez won the runoff special election to fill Houston City Council District H Saturday, defeating former high school teacher and City Council staffer Maverick Welsh.

Although the campaign was hard fought, with both candidates personally knocking on thousands of doors and calling registered voters repeatedly, Gonzalez ultimately prevailed by a wide margin.

With all 13 precincts reporting, Gonzalez earned 61 percent of the vote to Welsh’s 39 percent with 4,680 ballots cast. That actually exceeded the total number of ballots cast in the initial nine candidate special election May 9, a rarity in Houston runoffs.

“I feel just tremendous,” Gonzalez said Saturday night. “I feel very humbled at the fact that the voters of District H have spoken.”

Gonzalez will immediately fill the seat vacated by Sheriff Adrian Garcia, a close friend and former police colleague with whom he has worked on several previous political campaigns.

He said he plans to establish relationships with members of City Council and ensure that all constituent services and relationships with the community remain strong.

The final vote total was 2854 for Gonzalez and 1826 for Welsh. Kudos again to Stace for calling the higher turnout. For what it’s worth, if we’re doing a little tooting of one’s own horn, I had a pretty good guess on the final turnout number. Here, the early vote total was 47.9% of the cumulative amount, or a smidge higher than it was for the May election.

As far as the negative stuff, one way to look at this is that if you simply compare Welsh to Gonzalez in May, Welsh got 46.2% of the vote share. Gonzalez, who won all three aspects of the vote this time, therefore won a bigger percentage of the vote in the runoff. I wouldn’t necessarily conclude that the barrage of negative mail from the Welsh campaign hurt him, but it sure didn’t help.

Be that as it may, my congratulations to Council Member Ed Gonzalez on his victory today. I have full confidence in his ability to do the job. Best wishes, and good luck to you.

Runoff Day in District H

Today is Runoff Day for the District H special election. Polls are open from 7 AM till 7 PM. Voting locations are here; if you’re not sure what precinct you’re in, go here. Early voting was heavier than I expected it would be, so I’m very curious to see if that carries over to today’s activity. I think I speak for everyone involved in this when I say that I’ll be glad when it’s over and we finally have a Council member for District H. Best of luck to both candidates today.

Ed and Maverick in District H

All the votes are in, and it’s Ed Gonzalez and Maverick Welsh in the runoff for District H.

With all 13 precincts reporting and nearly 4,200 ballots cast in a district of more than 93,000 registered voters, Gonzalez had 31.4 percent of the vote and Welsh had 26.9 percent.

They were followed by attorney Yolanda Navarro Flores, HPD officer Rick Rodriguez and pastor Larry Williams. Lupe Garcia, Gonzalo Camacho, Hugo Mojica and James Partsch-Galvan took in less than 3 percent each.

The strikingly low turnout did not surprise political handicappers or any of the campaigns, many of which knocked doors and placed volunteers at the district’s polling places to do last-minute electioneering. Their efforts had a slightly blunted impact, as nearly half of the votes counted came from absentee and early voting.

Gonzalez had a huge lead in the early totals, coming in at least 10 points ahead of the nearest candidate, but Welch won election day voting by about an eight-point margin. Both campaigns said they planned to continue frenzied efforts to reach voters for another month, when the runoff election most likely will be scheduled. A City Council vote will be required to set the exact date.

Here are the cumulative totals. The final turnout was 4,141 votes, which was a bit short of my projection. About 45% of the vote was cast early.

I’ll have some more thoughts on this later. For now, my congratulations to both campaigns. As you know, I think Maverick Welsh ran a strong race, and worked hard to get into this position. I expect to see more of the same in the runoff.

Elsewhere, Julian Castro won going away to become San Antonio’s next Mayor without a runoff, while Lee Leffingwell led the field in Austin. He’ll face Brewster McCracken in overtime, as the Carole Keeton Strayhorn show comes once again to an end.