Harris County saw a wave of incumbent judges ousted from their respective positions in this past election. Was this due to voter dissatisfaction with the local judges? Was this due to the unusually high voter turnout (1.18 million voters in Harris County)? Or, was this because President-Elect Obama carried the Democratic challengers into office? Regardless of the reasoning, the voters in Harris County have spoken. For better or worse, change is coming our way.
Specifically, Democratic challengers defeated 23 of the 27 Republican judges on the ballot. Democrats and Republicans, as many know, often interpret the law differently. In Texas, where the judges are elected by the people, as opposed to by appointment, the election is the vehicle for the people to determine which lawyers they want interpreting the law. This time, the people have expressed the desire to have the law interpreted, with some exceptions, by Democrats.
What was different about this election? Well, one new trend in Harris County was the large turnout of early voters. According to election results, 62% of the votes were cast in Harris County during the early voting period. This is the first time that more votes were cast before Election Day than on Election Day. This is a significant change for Harris County. If this trend continues, one would think that last minute negative attack ads will have less and less of an affect upon the electorate. In other words, if the public has already voted, the ads have less of a relevant audience. This election was also shaped by the large turnout of overall voters, whether they voted early or on Election Day.
Many feel that the new judiciary will make things easier in Harris County to file and bring civil personal injury lawsuits. Only time will tell how much of a change the new judges will bring to the table.