From 7 a.m. Thursday to 7 p.m. Friday, the eight polling sites gave new meaning to the notion of early voting, operating in the cities of Houston, Pasadena and Cypress. Voters in the third-most-populous county in America cast their ballots at 2 a.m. as if it were 2 p.m., part of a push by officials in the predominantly Democratic county to expand voter access in the midst of a pandemic during the three-week early-voting period, which ended Friday.

The numbers made it clear that it was not a mere gimmick. At the peak nighttime hours — from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. — 10,250 people voted at the eight locations. More than 800 of those voters cast their ballots between midnight and 7 a.m., election officials said.

The late-night voters were college students and retirees, men and women, gay and straight, parents who brought their children and workers who walked in still wearing their work ID lanyards and nameplates.