HOUSTON (KIAH) – Tuesday is Election Day and Texans across 254 counties are vare casting ballots in this Primary Runoff Election.

Elections officials say the turnout rate in early voting and the primary election back in March brought out more than 105,000 people. Compared to a little over 59,000 people in the 2014 primary election and nearly 68,000 in the 2018 early voting turnout.

Harris County officials say with people paying more attention to what’s happening with the economy and politics they expect a big turnout today. County officials also say they made sure to promote this election in multiple languages (English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese). Those are the four most commonly spoken languages in Harris County. The goal is to try to reach as many community members as possible to get out and vote.

There are pivotal races on the ballot, including the Republican race for attorney general, incumbent Ken Paxton against challenger George P. Bush. On the Democratic side, it’s Joe Jaworski against Rochelle Mercedes Garza.

Showing up on the Republican ballot for Harris County Judge are Alexandra Mealer and Vidal Martinez.

The reason for a primary run-off election is when the first election took place the candidates did not reach the necessary threshold of votes needed for a candidate to win. This can happen in a general or primary election… which means a second election must be held to determine a winner.

“A lot of people will wave off the primary or the primary runoff and say ‘oh the primary election is the only one that counts. But it’s really important to vote in these smaller races because you are going to determine who’s on that final ballot in November,” said Nadia Hakim, Deputy Director of Communication and Voter Outreach.

The difference between this election and the primary in March is you can vote at any of the 260 voting locations in Harris County.

“If you’re on your way from the grocery store and you remember ‘oh that’s right I didn’t vote’ stop by what’s closest to the grocery store. Stop on your way before you pick up the kids from school or whatever it may be,” said Hakim.

Elections officials say Harris County got new voting machines within the last year. They encourage voters to understand how to properly work the machine prior to casting the ballot. If you find any mistakes let your election worker know.

What do I need to vote?

  • Photo ID
  • Sample ballot with handwritten notes
  • No electronics are allowed inside the voting location. It’s considered a recording device.
  • Check wait times for the three nearest voting locations

To check wait times and print off a sample ballot go to the Harris County elections website.

The polls open at 7 a.m. this morning and close at 7 p.m. You must be in line by the cut-off time in order to cast your ballot. If you’re sending in a mail-in ballot it must be postmarked by 7 p.m.

Mail-in Ballots

In the Primary Election, the concern for many people in harris county was mail-in ballots.

The Administration Office says the rejection rate was about 19% in the March primary election and 10% in the May 7 election. This time around, election officials want to avoid that.

“Before you seal the flap to your mail ballot make sure you fill out the identification fields under that flap. That’s what trips up a lot of people. They’ll either seal it and they don’t see it. Go ahead and fill out those identification fields… if you don’t remember what you registered to vote with – when in doubt fill both out,” Hakim.

You can not  drop off mail-in ballots on behalf of anyone else. This includes family members. The relative must be in the car with you and have a valid form of ID.

If you’re mailing your ballot… here’s what you will need:

  • Photo ID
  • Ballot postmarked by 7:00 p.m.
  • Check for the nearest drop-off locations
  • You can deliver your ballot in person at Harris County Tax Office.
    • There’s a drive-thru tent on 1001 Preston St., Houston, Texas 77002

For more information on the Primary Runoff Election visit HarrisVotes.com. For other counties in Texas, you can visit VoteTexas.gov.