The Harris County ballot is about as long as this, and not as gripping

Early Voting Begins: Five Reasons To Get It Out Of The Way

Early voting began today

in Harris County and elsewhere, as voters and candidates finally hit the home stretch for the very

bizarre Campaign 2010


Voting early is usually a good idea; here in Houston it makes more sense than ever this year.

Five reasons why:

5. The ballot is about as long as the entire Harry Potter series.
And believe us, it's not exactly an enthralling read. Beyond the statewide, Congressional, judicial and county races, there's a bonanza of referendums to deal with. Hate red-light cameras? Cast a (possibly symbolic only) vote against them. Plus there's the whole proposed flood-infrastructure thing, which is as boring as it is complicated.

4. No one knows the ballot is as long as it is.
That means trouble. Grandma and Grandpa get up to the ballot, vote whatever straight-ticket ballot they usually do, turn to leave and -- what's this? I know have to ponder my position on red-light cameras? What is a red-light camera? Can I use it to get pictures of my grandkids?

It's not exactly something you want happening while there's an Election Day line to deal with.

Luckily, local churches have come out against the anti-flood project because -- as shocking as it may seem -- they will be asked to pay the same fees as other property owners, even though the huge parking lots they build don't add to the flooding problem. So the old folks won't have to read the entire question and decide for themselves; they'll be well-drilled to vote "no" on Prop One.

3. There is the little matter of Harris County losing all its voting machines.
Could this affect things on Election Day? It's possible, as is the sun rising in the East that morning. County clerk spokesman Hector De Leon assures Hair Balls that enough voting machines have been borrowed from other counties to handle the load.

He also say this: "When the voters walk in on Monday they're not going to see a difference from previous elections. It's going to be the same thing, same complement of voting equipment."

Maybe. But we're not sure we trust voting machines borrowed from the Valley or the Dallas suburbs. They may not know how to process votes that aren't Democratic or Republican, respectively.

2. Once you vote, you can freely ignore all those Rick Perry-Bill White commercials.
Sure, you do that now. But after you vote early, you can do it with a clear conscience.

1. You get to meet the really die-hard political volunteers.
Anyone can stand outside a polling place on Election Day and offer flyers to people who ignore them. It takes dedication to do it day after day during the early-voting period. They must really be interested in the judgeship of the 251st District Court. Or possibly, related to one of the candidates.

With reporting by Jacqueline Reyes.

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