“The public should know that a plan had to be enacted quickly to be able to conduct the election in accordance with the election calendar set by the state,” said [Harris County Clerk Beverly] Kaufman, the chief election officer of the County. “Early voting will be conducted in a manner that is familiar to voters. We will obtain enough electronic voting equipment that is compatible with technology we have in place and allocate it to early voting locations as usual. The goal is the same for Election Day. But, if we fall short of the goal, paper ballots will be on hand to ensure that all voters are afforded equal access to the voting process at the poll.”
“As we face this unforeseen challenge, I’m hearten that all entities that have a role in creating the county’s election infrastructure are working as a team to ensure all registered voters are provided access to the voting process in a manner consistent with voting laws,” added Kaufman. Texas election law provides that the administration of an election must be a coordinated effort between the chief election officer of the county, the chairpersons of the political parties, citizens (via their political party structure) and County government officials.
For this election, at least one electronic voting machine that provides people with disabilities the opportunity to vote independently, the Disabled Automated Unit (DAU), will be allocated to each of the polling location. More importantly, on Election Day, 736 polling locations are scheduled to be opened. An increase of eight compared to the 728 polls opened during the 2008 November election.
“It is more important than ever for voters to know all the important dates leading up to Election Day and take advantage of the voting options which the law affords them,” Kaufman concluded, urging registered voters to visit the County Clerk’s election website or Texas Secretary of State’s website to obtain the calendar for this election cycle.
As I said before, I feel pretty good about the county’s ability to move forward and conduct a reasonably smooth election in the wake of this catastrophe. That’s to their credit, but I still have to wonder why they’re just making this sort of contingency plan now, instead of already having one that has had some kind of simulation testing performed on it. Is it really the case that nobody ever wondered what we might do if the building where every single machine is stored caught fire or flooded or something? As the Chron opines, we damn well better give it some thought now, so that we’re never in this position again. And while we’re at it, since we’re going to have to replace all these machines anyway, let’s also give some thought to equipping those replacements with printers, so that there can be a paper backup available for every vote. At the very least, let’s make sure whatever we get has the latest and greatest security features.