The county’s plan for dealing with the loss of all of its voting machines includes some low technology.
Despite a fire that destroyed Harris County’s voting machines Friday, County Clerk Beverly Kaufman said she intends to keep all polling places open with replacement machines on Nov. 2.
Commissioners Court approved Kaufman’s emergency plan this afternoon to spend $13.6 million to buy 2,325 electronic voting machines and supporting equipment.
“Your polling place is going to be open early and on election day. You’ll be able to vote conveniently as you’re accustomed to doing,” Kaufman said afterward.
Kaufman’s request included 1.4 million paper ballots, which will be distributed to polling stations as a backup in case a shortage of machines leads to long lines.
As PDiddie notes, it was reported by Mary Benton that paper ballots will be made available to “anyone who asks” for one. The statement about keeping all polling places open is to address the concerns of Democratic elected officials, who wrote a letter to the Justice Department about the possibility of precinct consolidation and fewer voting machines in minority areas.
I feel like the immediate concerns have been addressed, and I’m reassured that everyone involved is going to do the right thing. There’s still a lot of uncertainty, though – how many machines will we have, will election judges know what to do with the paper ballots, what happens if the fire marshal makes a ruling of arson – and I don’t see that getting cleared up any time soon. I’d still like to know why it is that all the machines were stored in one place, and why we didn’t already have a written disaster recovery plan. Imagine how screwed we’d be if this had all happened a month from now. We’d better take the lessons we learn from this very seriously, that’s for sure. Hair Balls has more.