Voting 101: Guide to upcoming Houston runoff elections, including mayoral and city council races

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Saturday, December 9, 2023
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Early voting has begun! The December runoff elections are around the corner, and Houstonians have already started heading to the polls.

The video above is ABC13's 24/7 livestream.

Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire are going head-to-head to replace Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in the highly anticipated runoff on Dec. 9.

There are also seven City Council positions and an open controller seat headed to runoffs, the latter race between Chris Hollins and Orlando Sanchez vying for outgoing controller Chris Brown's job.

As a reminder, even if you didn't vote on Nov. 7, you can still vote in the runoff.

There can be a lot of information when it comes to voting, but ABC13 has your guide.

Harris County voting precinct maps

Here's a look at the centers available for early elections and on Dec. 9, Election Day.

Is it too late to register to vote?

Unfortunately, if you haven't registered 30 days before the upcoming election date, then it's too late. But, it's always good to register early for the next year.

To check if you are registered, you can use the Texas Secretary of State's Voter Portal with just your name, county and birthday.

Voting by mail

Can I vote by mail?

If you are 65 or older on Election Day, then yes, you can vote by mail in Harris County.

Anyone younger than 65 can also vote by mail if they are sick, disabled, or expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day.

Other exceptions include being out of your county on the day of elections and during early voting hours.

People who are in jail or Involuntary Civil Commitment, but eligible to vote, are also able to apply to vote by mail for one election and its resulting runoff, according to the Harris County Clerk Center.

How do I apply for a mail ballot?

If you meet the requirements to submit your ballot by mail, you can send your application to the Harris County Elections Administrator's Office by mail, fax, or email.

The county clerk's office urges applicants to make sure the form is signed and completely filled out. You can download and print the application on the Harris County Clerk's Office's website.

In 2022, lawmakers enacted stricter voting guidelines, as part of Senate Bill 1, that require voters to include their driver's license number or the last four digits of their social security number.

The new requirements prompted thousands of applications to be rejected, among other reasons.

SEE MORE: How to make sure your mail-in ballot isn't rejected after Harris County sends back 37% of them

Will my vote be counted if I send my ballot by mail?

In 2022, Republicans passed an election integrity bill, saying it would be necessary to make elections more secure.

Issues during Harris County primary elections last year prompted concerns for voters, especially for voters who opted in to mail their ballots.

Harris County leaders said during the 2022 primary, many left it blank, or it didn't match their voter registration. This caused many ballots to be rejected.

In 2023, the primary elections had very few hiccups, and voting officials credited the improvement to preparations and better staffing.

You can track your mail ballot on the Harris County Clerk's Office's elections department.

What other races are on the ballot?

City of Houston, Council Member, At-large Position 1: Julian Ramirez and Melanie Miles

City of Houston, Council Member, At-large Position 2: Willie Davis and Nick Hellyar

City of Houston, Council Member, At-large Position 3: Richard Cantu and Twila Carter

City of Houston, Council Member, At-large Position 4: Roy Morales and Letitia Plummer

City of Houston, Council Member, District D: Travis McGee and Carolyn Evans-Shabazz

City of Houston, Council Member, District G: Tony Buzbee and Mary Nan Huffman

City of Houston, Council Member, District H: Cynthia Reyes Revilla and Mario Castillo

Eyewitness News will stream Election Day coverage beginning at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 in this article or on your TV.

To watch on Roku:

  • Search ABC13
  • Find ABC13 Houston and Add Channel
  • Open the ABC13 Houston app. There is no login required

To watch on Samsung TV:

  • Open the Samsung TV Plus app or press the Samsung TV Plus button on your remote
  • Channel 1035 is ABC13 Houston (available only in the Houston region

To watch on Prime Video:

  • Open the Prime Video app or press the Prime Video button on your remote
  • Choose Live TV
  • Under the list of content categories, choose "News"
  • Scroll down to find ABC13 Houston

To watch on Freevee:

  • Open the Freevee app on your TV
  • Use magnifying glass icon to search Houston
  • Choose ABC13 Houston from list of results