The investigation continues into the three alarm warehouse fire that destroyed all of Harris County's 10-thousand electronic voting machines. County Clerk Beverly Kaufman immediately set in motion a plan to ensure voters will be able to cast ballots on or before Nov. 2nd. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says he's staying out of her way.
"She's been in this business a long time and as I've pointed out, she was the president of the National Organization of County Clerks and she's got great contacts around the country. She's not up for election. She's retiring. This is her swan song. I'm sure she'd like for it to be something different, but I think we're all just really grateful that we have such an experienced person that's handling it right now."
Emmett and Commissioners approved a 15-million dollar insurance settlement to help in the purchase of the e-slate voting machines.
"I'm really pretty confident because again, it happened so far in advance. We're not gonna have as many voting machines, but with all the attention being given to us — all the discussion of trying to vote early — I think it will go off fairly smoothly. The other benefit is it's not a presidential year, so turnout is always lighter in a non-presidential year. We're just standing here ready to help the county clerk in anything she needs."
Hector DeLeon is director of communications and voter outreach for the Harris County Clerk's Office:
"We're gonna have plenty of equipment for early voting at the levels that we've had it for previous similar elections. And on election day, we may have have enough equipment at minimum. We're gonna have one what we call a disabled access unit, one booth per poll, but we may have more than that at each poll with the number of equipment that is being projected and is being loaned by other counties, plus the equipment that we're purchasing."
He says they're encouraging residents to take advantage of early voting which starts October 18th:
"We have been seeing a greater number of participants in every major election and we expect it in this election. We will have more people voting early, that will help with the whole issue in case something were to happen unexpectedly."
Turnout is expected to be roughly half of what is seen during a presidential election. The list of early voting locations can be found at www.harrisvotes.com/docs/EV/earlyvotinglocations_schedule_ENG.pdf.