It's 11 a.m. at the Third Ward Multi-Service Center. The expansive, modern facility is spotless, the voting computers are shiny new, and poll workers are lined up behind a rectangular table, organized and ready for action.
Only thing is, there are no voters anywhere in sight.
"The county and the parties need to do a better job letting people know where they're supposed to go," says election judge Ann Tillis.
Tillis says that loads of people in the Third Ward are accustomed to going to their neighborhood polling place, used during general elections, and do not know that many of those locations are closed for today's primaries. Instead, precincts have been consolidated, says Tillis, and there are fewer places to vote. County Clerk Beverly Kaufman has said that during primary elections, the political parties decide how many polling locations to set up and where to put them.
"We've had people come in here who are used to going to their neighborhood place," says Tillis, "and they've said it wasn't easy getting over here instead. It can really discourage you. You've got to know where to look, and pull it up on the Web or call the county."
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SHOW ME HOW
Things were downright sleepy at Precinct 360's Sheraton Hotel near West University. Aside from a technical difficulty with one of the voting machines in the Democrat voting area, there wasn't much to report. "It's been erratic and light," election judge Henry Horne Jr. told Hair Balls.
At the Republican spot, Hair Balls was speaking with two judges at the door, when judge Larry Simon popped up out of nowhere and interrupted to ask what this was all about. Perhaps worried that we were a mole for Farouk Shami's Evil Hair Product Empire, Simon shushed the other judges and said he was only there to make sure we got the information that we needed. Simon said things were "fairly busy," and said that he was expecting things to pick up between 11-1 and 4-7, "as long as the weather holds up."
At Bering Memorial church in Montrose, an election judge said there was a rush this morning, then it slowed down. She expects things to pick up a bit after work, but generally it's your low-turnout primary kind of day.
You can find out where to vote by calling the County Clerk at 713-755-6965, or more simply, go to the voting website and click on Polling Locations List.