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Trautman apologizes for the long lines

A very good start.

Diane Trautman

Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman is taking “full responsibility” for the long lines and wait times that bogged down election night voting and forced some voters to wait more than six hours to cast their ballots.

In a statement released Friday, Trautman, the Democrat who oversees elections in Harris County, apologized to voters affected by the excessively long lines experienced at voting sites serving mostly black and Hispanic communities and said her office would reevaluate how to distribute voting machines across the county.

“It is clear that the history of marginalized communities being left behind in the voting process has led to polling deserts in areas of Harris County,” Trautman wrote. “I believe that we have made some strides, but we still have work left to do.”


On Friday, Trautman said her office had done “the best with what we had” but committed to rethinking voting machine allocations. In a previous interview with The Texas Tribune, Trautman indicated the county would likely try to purchase additional equipment for the November election.

See here and here for the background, and here for a copy of the full statement. The Texas Civil Rights Project, a vocal critic of the lines on Tuesday, reacted positively to the Trib story, which is a good sign. Again, I think the main thing here is to solicit feedback from as many people and organizations involved in the process as possible, and really listen to their input and make a plan to implement as much of it as reasonably possible. I also think the HCDP and the many clubs and activist groups should think long and hard about what they can do to assist in this as well. We all have a stake in the outcome, after all.

One thing to keep in mind for November is that historically, in the even-numbered years, the share of turnout in early voting is much higher than it is in other elections, and much higher than the share of Election Day voting:

Year     Mail    Early    E-Day   Early%
2008   67,612  678,449  442,670    62.8%
2010   55,560  392,140  351,288    56.0%
2012   76,090  700,982  427,100    64.5%
2014   71,994  307,288  308,736    55.1%
2016  101,594  883,977  353,327    73.6%
2018   98,709  767,162  354,000    71.0%

That said, that’s still a lot more people voting on Election Day than we had this Tuesday. Fortunately, there will be many more E-Day polling locations, and no restrictions on the machines. As such, to a great extent and barring any unforeseen catastrophes, the problem will largely take care of itself. That of course is not the point. Having the November election run smoothly and without this kind of problem is a necessary condition to restore faith in the Clerk’s office, but it’s not sufficient. Demonstrating in word and deed that the Clerk understands the problem and has a well-thought out plan that the community believes in to fix it, that’s what we need. Diane Trautman took steps towards that on Friday. New let’s keep it going. The Chron has more.

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  1. Douglas Pierre says:

    I hope she gets this fixed. Formerly, we could blame the Republicans since they felt that voter suppression gave them an advantage. Now that we have a Democrat in office, no stone must be left unturned in the effort to make voting efficient in Harris County.

  2. Flypusher says:

    A question about lines- I understand that if you get to the line by 7pm, you will be about to vote, ever if you have to wait 5 hours to get to a machine. But if you have to wait that long, it’s not unlikely that you’d need a bathroom break. Are you allowed to leave the line to relieve yourself and then go back to your place, or is it if you can’t hold it, you can’t vote?

    (I’m a lucky one who has never had to wait more than I minutes to vote, so I am genuinely curious.)

  3. Paul Kubosh says:

    I am glad we could voter where ever we wanted to in the County. I think that was a real plus. This was the first time in a long time that I voted on election day. I am going to make sure I early vote from here on.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    I’m surprised Trautman didn’t just blame the Russians and the Ukranians for the foul up, or claim Harris County Republicans are rapists. That seemed to work well on a national level.

    Seriously, though, it would have been better for her if she’d have just owned the problem up front, vs. flailing about and trying to blame others. By my count, she’s 2 out of 2 for screwed up elections. Look, just say you screwed up, that the voting anywhere in the county thing was harder to implement than you thought, but promise to rectify things going forward. Frankly, the vote from anywhere was a nice idea. She could still run on that for re-election, assuming the runoff and general elections are relatively problem free.

  5. Brad says:

    Russia rears Its head on this board. Again.

  6. Manny says:

    Bill I don’t recall long lines that would merit your claim, she took office in 2019, so there have been several elections since then. The last one before this primary, there was a problem with getting the results timely, but that is not the same as screwing up the election. I am old enough to remember the paper ballots and the hand counting, had to wait a long time to get the results.

    But almost everything wrong with the country, yes, the fault lies with the Republicans.

    But I agree with brad why should the taxpayers pay for conducting the elections, the vast majority of people do not actively identify with either the Republicans or Democrats.