Elections equipment damaged in fire

Uh oh.

Harris County voting machines were heavily damaged in a 3-alarm fire at warehouse in north Houston early this morning.

The fire broke out about 4:15 a.m. at the county’s election equipment storage facility in the 600 block of Canino near Marnie, which is near the Melrose Park, fire officials said.

Firefighters extinguished the flames at the football-field size warehouse about four hours later.

No injuries were reported.

Voting machines, including eSlate equipment, were stored at the nearly 27,000-square-foot facility, county officials said. They were heavily damaged in the blaze.

County election officials said they expect to talk with neighboring counties to possibly use some of their voting machines in the upcoming election.

This could be very, very bad. County Clerk Beverly Kaufman has sent out a press release saying she will have a briefing to address this today at 11 AM at the 4th Floor Conference Room, Harris County Administration Building at 1001 Preston. I sure hope the county has a disaster recovery plan for this sort of thing.

UPDATE: County Clerk Kaufman puts a good face on the situation.

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman this morning said she is confident of timely, clean elections in November, even as a fire that destroyed the county’s entire inventory of 10,000 electronic voting machines still burned.

Kaufman urged voters to cast their ballots early to help the county cope with a possible shortage of equipment on election day.

“Because I don’t expect to have 10,000 pieces to work with, no matter what we do, I’m sure that we’re going to be putting on a full court press urging people to vote early,” Kaufman said.

Early voting begins in 52 days, so you can bet they’ll both be pushing for people to use it, since it requires fewer machines, and will be scrambling to get enough of them in place for it. According to Hair Balls:

The Secretary of State is helping Kaufman reach out to the 114 other counties in Texas that use the same voting machines as Harris County and she expects to receive many loaners. She is also negotiating replacement equipment from the vendor, though Kaufman did not have specifics at a Friday morning media conference.

I sure hope we can get enough equipment. Best of luck getting it done.

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6 Responses to Elections equipment damaged in fire

  1. Ship Channel Liberal says:

    If there are fewer machines, will all areas of the county get an equal amount of the machines for Election Day, or will Republicans rig it so Republican precincts get more machines? Republicans seem to be doing all they can to suppress Democratic voter turnout for 2010.

  2. John Cobarruvias says:

    It wouldnt surprise me if this was arson. Not one single bit.

  3. Libby Shaw says:

    This is terrible. Why on earth were all of the machines stored in the same place? I am sorry but I cannot help but think the worst. Texas Republicans have a long record of voter suppression on more than just one level, thank you. Just ask Paul Bettencourt about the 7,000 voter registrations that he scrubbed from the rolls in 2008. There is a reason Bettencourt resigned within a month of getting elected.

    I would surprised if it is not arson.

  4. Joanne Rhone says:

    Fire destroyed 10,000 voting machines.
    But, just days prior to fire, the Elec. director stated she may not be able to operate all 739 voting locations UNLESS she gets more machines.

    Do the math, 739 locations stocked by 10,000 machines (number lost in fire) equals 13.53 machines per each location.

    So, why could she not have stocked all 739 voting locations?

    Now, a fire destroyed all.

    And, we scratch our heads and wonder ….if, ….if, there is any foul play here?

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