Tips for Straight Party Voting in Harris County

Those of you have who were regular readers of my column know that I am not a fan of straight party voting, on either side. But I must admit that when facing the longest ballot in the country, it is tempting in Harris County to hit the straight party button to avoid going through 50-odd individual races. If you do plan to use the straight party lever, here are a couple of tips that you may find helpful.
 
Deselecting a Candidate – Suppose that you are inclined to vote a straight party ticket but do not want to vote for one or more of the candidate that party has nominated. In that case, you can select the straight party box, but then go to any of the races and change your vote in that particular race. Selecting that particular election will deselect the candidate that was selected by the straight party vote. The machine displays a note that you are changing your straight party vote in that race. At that point, you can pass and not select any candidate or one of the other candidates.
 
Non-Partisan Votes – It is also important to realize that if you just cast a straight party vote and don’t do anything else, you will not vote in any of the non-partisan elections. For example, voters in HISD are being asked to vote on a controversial proposition regarding state school finance. If you live in HISD and just vote a straight ticket, you will not vote on that issue. There is also a HISD trustee election in some areas and other ballots measures in various parts of the county. So be sure and go all the way to the bottom of the ballot.
 
Our County Clerk, Stan Stanart, has developed a very helpful webpage that allows you to find your polling location and preview the actual ballot you will see in the polling booth. [click here for election day polling location and sample ballot].  There is also a page that shows all of the early voting locations and the schedule for when they are open.  [click here for early voting locations & schedule].  It is much easier to early vote so take advantage of it.
 
The good news is that early voting starts today and in a couple of weeks this miserable campaign season will be over.