County Clerk Gets OK To Buy New Voting Equipment

The Harris County Commissioners Court has given the green light to replace voting equipment destroyed in last week's fire. The Commissioner held an emergency meeting today to vote on the matter. Bill Stamps was there and has this report.
"Section three: the Harris County purchasing agent in cooperation with the Harris County Clerk is authorized to make purchases leases or other arrangements..."

Harris County Judge Ed Emmitt read an emergency request by County Clerk Beverly Kaufman. With all of the county’s voting equipment destroyed in the fire and just two months till early voting, Kaufman was asking for the authority to make spending decisions that otherwise might have to be voted on.

As she first stated on Friday, her plan is to borrow as many voting machines as possible from nearby counties and purchase the rest from the manufacturer.

"We’re going to get some equipment from other jurisdictions. They’ve been more generous in offering the JBC devices, judges booth controller, that the actual voting devices are attached to. That’s why we’re asking you to allow us to go forward with the manufacture of addition e-slates, especially those that are required by law to help with those with additional needs."

Since the fire, there been talk about possibly having to consolidate some precincts to make up for a shortage of machines. That idea worries some politicians who afraid some people may not have transportation issues, or that it could even cause confusion. This is State representative Garnet Coleman.

"You know we just want to be clear as members that we protect the rights of all voters and particularly concerned about consolidation of precincts. And as we move forward, I just want to make sure that we work with you and how you carry out this process."

Kaufman made it clear that there are no plans to consolidate precincts and she believes since this is not a presidential election they can get by with fewer machines because of what is usually a lower turn out. In the end, Kaufman’s emergency request was approved.