Nov 7, 2023 - News

It's time to vote for the next Houston mayor

Illustration of Houston City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Election Day is finally here.

Why it matters: Houstonians will be voting for a new mayor after incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner reached his term limit.

  • Plus, the city controller, all of the City Council district and at-large positions, a pair of city charter amendments, a county hospital proposition, and state propositions are also on the ballot.

State of play: This is the first time since 2020 that an election in Harris County is being run by the county clerk.

What we're watching: Unless state Sen. John Whitmire or U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee can surpass the expectations reflected in the recent University of Houston polls, the two front-runners in the mayoral race are likely headed for a December runoff.

Details: Polls are open from 7am to 7pm Tuesday.

The bottom line: If you're registered, go vote.

Go deeper: Here are our quick local and state voting guides.

Charted: Early-voting numbers

Unofficial Harris County early voting <span style="background:#421ab3; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">by mail</span> and <span style="background:#a283ff; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">in-person</span>
Data: Harris County Clerk's Election Department; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Despite the influx of new residents and Houston's larger electorate, early voting has remained at approximately the same level since 2015, when Turner was elected.

By the numbers: About 9.3% of the 2.57 million registered voters in Harris County voted early this year, according to the unofficial early-voting numbers from the Harris County Clerk's Election Department.

  • While the number of voters increased from 2015, the percentage was flat — 9.4% of the 2.1 million registered voters in 2015 voted early.

The intrigue: Mail-in ballots returned in this election were half the number returned in 2015, with nearly 15,000 ballots this year compared to 30,000 eight years ago.

  • The drop came after the passage of new laws imposing restrictions on mail-in ballots, including a 2020 state law that limited Texas counties to only one location for dropping off mail-in ballots as well as a 2021 law that made the application process for mail-in ballots more complicated.

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