Early Voting Turnout Solid in Harris County

So far, so good. That's the message on early voting for the Texas primary from Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman. "Actually on the first day of early voting we had a record turnout," she tells KTRH. "In-person voters---12,232, compared with 2016's first day total of 7,680."

That record first-day turnout did encounter a few issues, with some sites reporting out-of-date voter data or missing data on mail-in ballots, which could have allowed those who already voted by mail to also cast an in-person ballot. Trautman chalked those problems up to a "sync issue" with electronic polling info. "We were able to quickly resolve those problems, and no voters were turned away," she says. "We actually had a very successful first day of early voting."

One week into early voting in Harris County, turnout is neck-and-neck between Democrats and Republicans. This is somewhat surprising, since Democrats have swept all county offices in the last two general elections and Dems have a competitive presidential race at the top of the ticket, unlike Republicans. Bob Stein, political science professor at Rice University, believes Republicans are fired up after getting shellacked in recent years, and are also coming out for some key local races. "Republicans are turning out, not for President Trump---he has no primary opponents---but there are important races for the 3rd Commissioners Court seat that's open and of course the 7th Congressional District seat," says Stein.

Another factor in the local turnout numbers is the volatile Democratic presidential race. "I think some Democrats are going to wait until after the caucuses in Nevada and the primary election in South Carolina, so they can get a better picture of who is leading among Democratic nominees," says Stein.

Early voting continues daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday Feb. 28. Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 3.

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