City News

December’s runoff election: What to expect

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

The city of Houston will have the chance to decide on its next mayor and city controller as the runoff election begins to ramp up. 

Early voting for the runoff election will run from Nov. 27 to Dec. 5, with Dec. 9 being election day. Voters who did not cast a ballot in the general election will still be eligible to vote in the runoff election, as long as they are registered. 

City Mayor

U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee and state Senator John Whitmire, lead the crowded 18-person mayoral race and are set to face each other again for the bid to be the city’s next mayor. 

The general election results show that Whitmire at nearly 43% with 106,434 votes. Jackson Lee tails closely behind, with approximately 34%, or 86,061 votes. 

In a survey by the Hobby School of Public Affairs, 50% of the voters intend to vote for Whitmire and only 36% of the voters would vote for  Jackson Lee, in the event of a runoff. One in 10 voters remained undecided about who they would vote for, and 5% said that they would not vote in the runoff if these were the two candidates.

Both Whitmire and Jackson Lee have held their offices from 1982 and 1995 respectively. 

The runoff takes place two days before the deadline, Dec.11, to file for the 2024 primary elections for federal and state offices. While it’s hard to predict what the election result could mean for the candidate’s future in politics, political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus said this is likely the end of one of their careers. 

“Both have gone all chips in on being mayor so I think this will be the end of their career for one of them,” Rottinghaus said. 

City Controller 

The controller is the chief financial officer of the city. Like the mayor, the controller is also bound to a maximum of two four-year terms. The controller is able to audit how city agencies are spending tax dollars and oversees how the city allocates its budget. 

Attorney Chris Hollins and former Harris County treasurer Orlando Sanchez, are set to face off against each other in December after competing in a four-way race during the general election.

The general election results show that Hollins got nearly 44%, or 95,001 votes and Sanchez got almost 27% of the vote, with 57,841 votes. 

Voter Turnout 

Less than 18% of registered voters in Harris County voted for the mayoral race, according to unofficial data released by the Harris County clerk’s office. 

The runoff will likely see an even lower turnout and with more passionate voters who are attached to one of the candidates, Rottinghaus said. 

“We’ll likely see less than 10% of Houston vote for mayor, a stunningly low number in a major city like Houston,” he said. 

Voting Locations 

Harris County will open up 41 early-voting locations, which will be open from Nov. 27 to Dec. 5.  The voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, with the exception of Dec. 3, when it will open at noon instead. 

The nearest early voting location to the University is at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Fellowship Hall located at 53826 Wheeler Avenue, according to the Harris County voter centers site

The University will host a voting location on election day in the Space City room at Student Center South.

What do you need to bring? 

Voters will need to bring one of the seven valid forms of photo ID with them to the voting booth. Valid forms of identification include Texas IDs such as driver’s licenses, election identification certificates, personal identification card, and handgun licenses. 

Federal identifications such as a U.S. military identification card, U.S. citizenship certificate or a U.S. passport are also considered acceptable forms of identification. 

In case you do not have a valid photo ID, you might be able to fill out a reasonable impediment form and show supporting documents such as a voter registration certificate, credited U.S. birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check to any other government document showing your name or address. 

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