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The race for Houston mayor headlines a short ballot of runoff elections for City Hall as voters head to the polls Saturday.

Longtime state Sen. John Whitmire is squaring off against U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in the race to replace outgoing Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Whitmire has spent millions since the Nov. 7 general election to capitalize on his first-place finish in that round, while Jackson Lee angles to overcome the spending deficit by galvanizing her base of supporters to turn out in large numbers. Neither candidate won enough votes Nov. 7 – more than 50 percent – to avoid a runoff.

There were 252,784 votes cast in the Nov. 7 Houston mayoral election. A little more than 1.15 million people are registered to vote in the city of Houston, yet fewer than one-fourth cast a ballot in the general election.

Nearly 132,000 votes – 120,155 in-person ballots and 11,732 mail ballots – were recorded during early voting, according to the Harris County Clerk’s Office. That compares to the 115,000 votes cast early during the last runoff in a mayor’s race in 2019.

The race for controller pits two former Harris County officials against each other.

Former interim Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins oversaw the 2020 election and briefly ran for mayor before dropping out when Jackson Lee entered the race last spring. He promises to use his skills as a management consultant to make sure the city is getting what it pays for.

Former Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez has served as an at-large City Council member and narrowly lost two runoff elections for mayor in the 2000s before serving as Harris County treasurer from 2006 through 2018. He promises to use his experience in local government to pull the city out of its budget crisis.

Four races for at-large City Council seats also will be decided.

In total, almost half of the 16 City Council contests are in a runoff, including the closely watched District G race between incumbent Mary Nan Huffman and celebrity trial attorney Tony Buzbee.

Residents of Baytown and Bellaire also have their own municipal elections. In Baytown, council member District 4 is on the ballot, and residents of Baytown will choose their next mayor. 

Houston City Council candidate Tony Buzbee, left, shakes hands with Zeb Apostolakis, right, outside a Harris County poll site in Nottingham Park on Election Day. Former City Councilman Greg Travis, center, supports Buzbee's campaign to oust incumbent Mary Nan Huffman.
Houston City Council candidate Tony Buzbee, left, shakes hands with Zeb Apostolakis, right, outside a Harris County poll site at Nottingham Park on Election Day. Former City Councilman Greg Travis, center, supports Buzbee's campaign to oust incumbent Mary Nan Huffman. (John Tedesco / Abdelraoufsinno)

How to vote

City of Houston residents can cast their ballots Saturday if they have not participated in early voting. Not sure if you are registered to vote? You can check your status here if you live in Harris County.

Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you are in line at 7 p.m., you may stay in line to cast your vote.

Voters in Harris County may cast ballots at any of 450 locations. A small sliver of far southwest Houston is in Fort Bend County. A full list of Harris County Election Day voting centers can be found here. Voting locations in Fort Bend County are listed here.

You may want to prepare to make your choices with the Abdelraoufsinno’s mayoral election guide or a guide prepared by the League of Women Voters.

You can find all of the Landing’s mayoral race coverage, including a side-by-side comparison of Jackson Lee and Whitmire’s stands on the issues, on our election page.

You can view a voter-specific sample ballot online here.

Harris County ballots are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese.

What to bring

Voters will need to carry one of seven types of photo identification to cast a ballot. The acceptable forms of identification are:

  • Texas driver’s license
  • Texas personal identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety
  • United States citizenship certificate containing a photo
  • Texas handgun license issued by DPS
  • Texas election identification certificate issued by DPS
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. military ID containing a photo

If you do not have a photo ID, you can fill out a declaration at the polling place and present a copy or original of a current utility bill, bank statement, a government document that shows your name and address, your voter registration certificate, a government check, a paycheck or a certified U.S. birth certificate.

Voters lacking one of those documents may cast a provisional ballot, but must return to their county registrar within six days with a photo ID for that vote to count. In Harris County, that means they must go to the tax assessor-collector’s office.

Harris County uses electronic voting machines. The county has posted a video explainer of how to use those machines on YouTube. Voters may adjust the font size or contrast of their machine.

You may be tempted to look at your phone once you see the ballot. That is against the rules in Texas, but you may bring a printed copy of a sample ballot or list of choices.

Need help?

Remote interpreters are available for people who need language assistance, including American Sign Language.

You can increase the font size or contrast on the voting machines

Curbside voting is available at every location for those who need it. Ring the buzzer under the blue sign in the parking lot for assistance.

There also are accessibility booths that are wider and have a separate control to accommodate mobility devices or a chair.

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Paul Cobler covers politics for the Abdelraoufsinno. Paul returns to Texas after covering city hall for The Advocate in Baton Rouge. During two-and-a-half years at the newspaper, he spearheaded local accountability...