Early voting underway for Nov. 2 election

HOUSTON Harris County lost most of its voting machines in a fire earlier this year. And while officials say they borrowed enough machines to handle the load of this election, they are hoping most people vote early to lessen the impact of potential problems on Election Day.

Harris County elections officials say they know of no major issues affecting early voting so far. The polls opened at 8am and the flow of voters has been steady.

As the polls opened at the West Gray Multi-Service Center, the line for those waiting to vote snaked out to the front door.

"You never know what's gonna happen on Election Day," said voter Kathleen Dawson.

"I didn't want to miss out or stand in a long line," said voter Betty Spivey. "That's why I'm early voting."

Some said they came to vote early because of the plea from elections officials following that fire in August that decimated most of the county's elections machines.

"I hope it's not going to be a factor," said voter Steve Howell. "I hope the elections officials have done the the things that we call on them to do and that we trust that they do. And frankly, they have always done so well."

Harris County, though, purchased as many replacement eSlates as it could and borrowed the rest. Sixteen counties from around the state have loaned Harris County machines. Officials say they have as many eSlates on hand as in any regular year; 847 machines located at 37 early voting locations.

"The message that we want to share with the public is it's business as usual," said Hector DeLeon with the Harris County Clerk's Office.

Voting at the West Gray location Monday morning was Democratic candidate for governor Bill White. Harris County is expected to be a battleground for votes in the Gubenatorial race.

"It's important that all members of this community stand up and be counted for their views and go vote," said White.

Governor Perry is expected to cast his vote later today in Austin.

Voter turnout for the general election is expected to be higher because of the race for governor of Texas. Harris County is expected to be a battleground in that race. Both attention from the fire and the plea for folks to get out and vote early are expected to inflate early voting numbers as well.

Investigators still have not determined what caused the fire that destroyed the county's voting machines. Those investigators tell us only that no accelerant was located at the scene.

You can vote early for the next two weeks.

We have links to all of the counties in our area here so you can check out polling locations and times.

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