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Keep Houston Press Free
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Early Voting in Fort Bend County

Out in Fort Bend County, usually a stronghold of Republicans, the polling place at Hightower High School meant a wait of about 25 minutes mid-day – if you were a Democrat. There was no wait on the Republican side because no one was there other than a lone poll worker and the precinct election judge. A lengthy winding line of people tried to get to the four or five Democratic primary machines available, while the polling machines on the Republican side stood unused.

Democrats with problems or questions were directed out of the Democratic primary line so as not to hold it up and told to go over to the Republican side. “They’re not doing anything over there,” one Democratic poll worker said. “They’ll be glad to help you.” And they were – morphing into gracious troubleshooters for lack of anything better to do.

The only brief moment of almost crisis was when one man, after receiving clearance to vote, instead wandered down past the election booths to answer his cell phone and then initiate a call himself. Apparently there’s a time limit to voting after your name has been inputted. Election workers tried to get his attention, telling him his vote wasn’t going to count if he didn’t get to it soon. “Somebody needs to tell him to get off that phone. If he thinks he’s going to vote he needs to vote, not talk on a cell,” one poll worker said. Plus, no one else could vote till they got him through the booths. Talk about a bad day – stand in line for 25 minutes, go through the select-a-wheel voting process and then find out your vote didn’t count. Who knew it was a timed test? – Margaret Downing

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