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Early votes put $2.5B Harris County flood bond on track to pass

August 26, 2018 GMT

Voters overwhelmingly supported the $2.5 billion Harris County flood bond, according to early preliminary results from early voting released when polls closed at 7 p.m..

About 85 percent of the 92,691 early ballots case were in favor of the bond. Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart estimates 60,000 voters cast ballots on Saturday, which are currently being counted.

If passed, the bond would be the largest local investment in flood control infrastructure since the storm. County Judge Ed Emmett calls the bond the most important local vote of his lifetime.

Though polling by the University of Houston found 55 percent of respondents support the bond, turnout in early voting was lower than expected. Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart downgraded his turnout projection by one-third, to 7.5 percent.

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County officials were disappointed by the low participation to date, but were buoyed by more than 13,000 ballots cast on Tuesday, the final chance to vote early. They hoped for a surge in voting Saturday, which Commissioners Court purposely chose for regular balloting because it is the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey.

If passed, the $2.5 billion bond would be the largest local investment in flood infrastructure since the storm, and is key to access at least $2 billion in matching federal dollars.

The bond would fund at least 230 projects managed by the Harris County Flood Control District, including $1.2 billion for channel improvements, $401 million for detention basins, $242 million for flood plain land acquisition, $12.5 million for new flood plain mapping and $1.25 million for an improved early flood warning system.

This story will be updated.

Zach Despart covers Harris County for the Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at zach.despart@chron.com.