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Here's What You Need to Know about Early Bird Voting in Houston

Find out where the drive-thru polls are, what you need to bring, who is actually on the ballot, and more.

By Brittany Cristiano October 12, 2020

The saying goes, “the early bird catches the worm,” but, starting Tuesday, October 13, the early bird also gets to vote early. This year, early voting will last until October 30, a week longer than most election seasons because of the ongoing pandemic. 

Now, where can I cast my early-bird vote? 

There are 122 locations to cast your vote in the Houston-metro area, 10 of which are drive-thru sites, according to the Harris County Clerk’s website. Within the Loop, there are 20 polling sites, five of which double as drive-thu voting locations. Furthermore, outside the Loop there are 11 sites in southeast Houston, 14 in northwest Houston, 10 sites in Katy, and many more. 

Most polling sites are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, on the last day of early voting, seven polling locations, like NRG Arena and the John P. McGovern Texas Medical Center Commons, will be open for 36 hours straight. 

What are the early voting hours? 

  • October 13–17: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
  • Sunday, October 18: noon to 7 p.m. 
  • October 19–24: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 25: noon to 7 p.m. 
  • October 26: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • October 27–29: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • October 29: 24 hours at seven locations, beginning at 7 a.m.
  • October 30: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

In-person polling locations within the Loop

  • SPJST Lodge Num 88–Ballroom: 1435 Beall St
  • Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church–Activities Building Classrooms 106 & 108: 2025 West 11th St
  • Hampton Inn and Suites–Bayou City Ballroom: 5820 Katy Fwy
  • West End Multi Service Center–Auditorium building 3: 170 Heights Blvd
  • Moody Park Community Center–Meeting room: 3725 Fulton St
  • Kashmere MultiService Center–Auditorium: 4802 Lockwood Dr
  • Houston Food Bank–Community Room: 535 Portwall St
  • Neighborhood Centers Inc Ripley House Campus–Gym: 4410 Navigation Blvd
  • HCC Southeast College Building C Parking Garage–Room 108: 6815 Rustic St
  • Shrine of The Black Madonna Cultural and Event Center–Main Floor: 5309 Martin Luther King Blvd
  • UH Student Center South Welcome Center–Room 220 F, D, B: 4455 University Dr
  • Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church–Gymnasium: 3810 Ruth St
  • Texas Southern University: 3011 Blodgett St
  • John P McGovern Texas Medical Center Commons–1st Floor Food Court: 6550 Bertner Ave
  • Toyota Center–VIP A and B: 1510 Polk St
  • NRG Arena–Hall D: 1 NRG Pkwy
  • Rice University–Football Stadium: 2050 University
  • HCC West Loop South (Drive-thru)–Auditorium: 5601 West Loop S
  • Metropolitan MultiService Center–MMSL AR 1 2 and gym: 1475 West Gray St
  • Hampton Inn Galleria–Uptown Room: 4500 Post Oak Pkwy

Drive-thru voting within the Loop

As outlined here, voters opting for drive-thru voting must show up to one of these locations and stay in their car. A greeter will bring a portable voting machine to the vehicle, and voila, you can vote from your car.

  • Toyota Center: 1510 Polk St
  • NRG Arena: 1 NRG Pkwy
  • HCC West Loop South campus: 5601 West Loop S
  • Houston Food Bank: 535 Portwall St
  • Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church: 2025 West 11th St, near T C Jester Boulevard 

24-hour voting locations 

These polling locations will be open from 7 a.m., October 29, to 7 p.m., October 30. 

  • NRG Arena—Hall D: 1 NRG Pkwy
  • Kashmere Gardens Multi-Service Center–Auditorium: 4802 Lockwood Dr
  • McGovern Texas Medical Center Commons–1st Floor Food Court: 6550 Bertner Ave
  • Victory Houston–Large Worship Area: 809 West Rd
  • East Harris County Activity Center–Big Room: 7340 Spencer Hwy
  • Tracy Gee Community Center–Room 1 and 2: 3599 Westcenter Dr
  • Juergen's Hall Community Center and Victory Gardens–Dance Hall: 26026 Hempstead Hwy

What happens when I get to the polls?

What do I need to bring?

Firstly, a photo identification in the form of a DPS driver’s license or ID, Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS, United States military ID card, United States citizenship certificate, or a United States passport are all accepted. Also, a new bring-a-long this year, thanks to Covid, is a face mask. 

Things might seem a little different this year. 

At the recommendation of Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughes, polling sites must follow the recommended guidelines created by the Center of Disease Control, like the good ol’ six-feet social distance indicators on the floor and proper sanitization procedures.

Oh, and one more thing: Voters won’t see a straight-ticket option on the ballot this year. A law passed in 2017 by the Texas Legislature outlawed straight-ticket voting. In September this year, a federal judge decided to restore straight-ticket voting, however, on September 30, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the federal judge’s decision.

Voting by mail 

If you’re casting your vote through a mail-in ballot, Houston has one mail-in ballot drop-off site at NRG Arena–Hall D that runs through November 3. 

Remember: All mail-in ballot requests must be received by the Harris County Clerk’s office by Friday, October 23. You can track the status of your mail in ballots here.

And, just your luck, More Than A Vote and Lyft are offering free Lyft rides (up to $15) to NRG Arena to drop your mail-in ballot when you use the code HOUVOTE. If you decide to vote on Election Day, Dallas-based ride-share company Alto is offering free rides to polling locations. Enter promo code VOTE2020 into the app and get two rides, (up to $15 each).

Need a download on key elections for Houston voters? 

We suggest you take a look at a sample ballot before you head to the polls (so the 21-page Harris County sample ballot doesn’t take you by surprise). Here are some high stake elections in the Greater Houston area, apart from the presidential race, you might see on the ballot: 

  • Sen. John Cornyn is up for re-election for his fourth term.
  • Seven U.S. House Representatives, including Al Green, Dan Crenshaw, Sylvia Garcia, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (where the GOP is hoping to flip the seat they lost in 2018) and Sheila Jackson Lee.
  • Texas Supreme Court positions, including Chief Justice and three justices.
  • Three Criminal Court of Appeals judges
  • One State Board of Education member, District 6 (a position on a board that wields tremendous influence over what is—and is not—taught in Texas public schools.)
  • Five state senators 
  • 34 state representatives 
  • Court of Appeals—two chief justices and three justices 
  • 33 district judges 
  • Two district attorneys, one in Harris and one in Montgomery County 
  • 105 county-level positions across Harris, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller counties, including a sheriff’s race in each county

Want more information? 

This ever-so-helpful voter's guide produced by the League of Women Voters of Houston is here to answer any other election-related questions.

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