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The County Clerk’s plan for the runoff

Things should be back to normal, and those of us who have to know the final results before we go to bed will get a little more sleep.

Diane Trautman

Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman on Tuesday said poll workers will drive electronic ballot boxes to the downtown counting center directly in hopes of speeding up vote counting during next month’s runoff elections.

The move comes a week after the clerk’s office was unable to fully report unofficial returns from the Nov. 5 elections until after 6 a.m. the next day.

Instead of waiting for constable deputies to pick up electronic ballot boxes from 10 sites around the county, Trautman told Commissioners Court that election judges will drive the boxes from roughly 300 voting centers to a central counting location. That represents a step back in how the county has counted and reported results on election night.

In recent elections, the office under former County Clerk Stan Stanart, used four relay sites to transmit results to the central counting center via phone line and modem.

Trautman’s plan was to use 10 such relay sites and transmit the results via the county’s intranet system. Trautman had used the same plan in the May elections and the Harris County Attorney’s office had concluded it was permitted by the Texas Election Code.

She was forced to change the plan, however, after the Texas Secretary of State’s office said it would violate state law prohibiting the transmission of election results via the internet.

See here for the background. The expectation is that we’ll get results more or less as we’ve seen them before, usually about 80% of precincts by midnight. I find all this a bit annoying since there was nothing inherently insecure about the electronic transfer plan they had in place, and used in May. As we know, the Secretary of State had no complaints when Stan Stanart was transmitting results via modem, which isn’t as secure as a VPN. Clearly, we need to add this to the list of Laws We Need To Change When Democrats Are Finally In Control, because there’s no incentive for Republicans to help out the big Democratic counties. Anyway, expect 75% less whining on Twitter on December 14, at least related to election night returns. Assuming we do get back to normal, people will forget about this.

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  1. Jason Hochman says:

    Most important to know is that the fire fighters are now unanimously endorsing Buzbee in the run off. On the other hand it is not really important to vote. The City does almost nothing, but the TIRZ has secured a grant for $25 million to re-do Shepherd and Durham, reducing them to three lanes, and adding nice sidewalks that won’t be able to have cars parked on them, and adding safe bike lanes, all the while, they had a study done and even with less lanes the traffic will flow better. Trying to get the city to stop handing out permits to wealthy developers to shut down the sidewalk indefinitely is a losing battle. Then, asking them to make changes for pedestrians to cross the streets safer, is even worse. The city people say they cannot slow down their precious motor vehicle traffic, and they don’t care if the planet only has 12 more years to live, if you are foolish enough to walk or ride a bicycle do so at your own peril.

  2. Bill Daniels says:


    Since the planet now only has 11.5 years left anyway, why can’t people be comfortable and enjoy driving in their cars without the worry of running over bicyclists that don’t belong on the road with cars anyway? I’ve seen these bike lanes going up here and there, with all the weird speed bumps and parking barriers and….I never see bicyclists riding on them. It’s a huge waste of money and resources, especially for a city with crappy streets anyway. Instead of removing driving lanes, why not FIX them instead?

    I mean, I get the basic idea, people will bike to work and thus reduce traffic congestion, but the reality is, ain’t nobody sweating their butt off riding to work in Houston’s long and hot Summers, or when it’s raining, or during the two weeks of the year when it’s actually cold. I don’t care HOW many bike lanes you install. No one is going to do that, at least, in any significant numbers.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    One more comment about the bike lanes… are street sweepers supposed to clean them, since the erstwhile traffic lane is now littered with concrete dividers everywhere to try and create parking spots? Anyone who has actually ridden in a bike lane (I have) knows that the sides of the roads are just chock full of tire flattening detritius. If you can’t clean the bike lane, it’s unusable anyway.

  4. Ross says:

    @Bill, street sweeping happens about every 37 years, so it won’t be a problem.

  5. robert says:

    I finally agree with Ross

  6. Mainstream says:

    As the debris on the Shepherd bridge over Memorial and Allen Parkway will attest, the City apparently only cleans a street if it is a major traffic hazard. That bridge has certainly not been swept in more than a year. There is even a heavy metal plate off the back of a truck lying in the gutter there.