in Houston, Texas
Harris County commissioners OK emergency voting machines plan after fire destroyed equipment
Monday, Aug 30, 2010, 05:26PM CST
By Lee Ann O'Neal
voting machine

Harris County officials will purchase and borrow voting machines after the Commissioners Court approved a plan to do "any and all things necessary and convenient" to be prepared to hold the November election.

The commissioners unanimously approved the order this afternoon, lifting the usual competitive bidding requirements that would govern the purchase of machines and authorizing county officials to make deals with other local governments to borrow from their stock. The measure was amended to specify that the county would seek eSlate machines like those destroyed Friday in a fire.

Nearly all the county's voting machines were destroyed in a fire early morning at a county warehouse, at 606 Canino Road near the Hardy Toll Road and Little York Road north of downtown. Early voting in the November election, in which voters will choose a governor, starts in less than two months.

County Clerk Beverly Kaufman said she had already received offers from other counties to loan equipment to Harris County, and that the secretary of state was helping spread the word about the county's need. She said it was too soon to estimate how many machines she could secure on loan, but "there's no way we're going to get more than we need."

Kaufman said she was not planning on consolidating polling places to compensate for the lost voting machines.

Public interest in the county's decision seemed high, with more than a dozen people listening to proceedings from the hallway because the courtroom was filled to capacity.

Kaufman cast a confident but urgent tone to the situation.

"We have no time in which to accomplish what's ahead of us," she said.
Contact Lee Ann O'Neal at or 713-980-9777.
Photo of an eSlate voting machine by flickr user kalebdf, used via a Creative Commons license.
tired dog
Wednesday, 09/01/2010 - 07:31AM

This situation has a good chance of morphing into a full fledged debacle as certain erected officials call on DoJ to 'run' our election. It's too bad we're not taking the time to review improved voting technologies before buying more of the same devices we've used for 8 (?) years. The possible combination of electronic and paper ballots presages confusion at the polls. Let's hope most do vote early as the ev polls which usually number 30 or so should have sufficient machines while the election day polls will not.

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