Fire Brings Potential Havoc to Houston Elections
by Bob Price on August 29, 2010 at 5:01 PM
(Fire Photo Courtesy of KHOU, Houston Channel 11)
Amidst allegations of extensive vote fraud in Harris County, Texas, a fire ripped through the heart of the upcoming general election destroying the entire inventory of voting machines for the state's largest city, Houston. The warehouse is located in the heart of the 18th Congressional District where the voter fraud is alleged to be occurring. Coincidence? Perhaps, but what are the real implications of this fire? Will Harris County voters be returned to the days of paper ballots? Does the fire increase or decrease the opportunity for voter fraud? How will the county manage to conduct an election under these circumstances? What can we, as voters and citizens, do to ensure a fair, open and honest election in this very important election?
Arson investigators of the Houston Fire Department will continue their investigation of the pre-dawn fire and as of this writing have no comment as to the cause of the fire. This leaves Harris County Clerk, Beverly Kaufman scrambling to figure out how to conduct this election and maintain the integrity of the vote. According to the Houston Chronicle on August 28, "There is no doubt in my mind that we're going to have a timely election here and that we're going to take care of the voters," said Kaufman, who is retiring in December after 16 years as chief elections officer. "We have a huge obligation here."
The e-slate machines, valued about about $3,000 each bring the cost to Harris County for this fire to well over $30,000,000 according to county officials. The Harris County Commissioners Court will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss options for the County.
We, as citizens and voters, also have a huge obligation here as well as responsibility. While the County Clerk is responsible for running the elections, it is a citizen workforce who actually work the polls and gather the ballots. The first thing we can do is get involved in this process. We need to make certain all of our polling places are properly staffed with people from the community to watch over the process and create the integrity to conduct a valid election. Election Judges, alternate judges and clerks are all members of the community who give up their time to carry out these elections. While they are paid a small amount, they do the work as an effort of love to volunteer their time to serve the community. We need you for this process. Click here to apply to be a poll worker for either the early elections or on election day!
While the King Street Patriots are wading into the issue of voter fraud as previously reported here other civic groups are stepping up to help smooth the disrupted election process. The Houston Tea Party Society (HTPS) is establishing a plan to get out the early vote. According to County Clerk Kaufman, the early vote will be more important than ever with the reduced number of polling machines that will be available.
The HTPS plan is to focus voters on early voting. This moves the Get Out the Vote target date from Nov 2nd to October 18th, the first day of early voting.
We will continue to follow this story and keep voters informed about how the county will conduct the General Election and the status of the ongoing voter fraud investigation.