Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What a Friend We Have in J. R.

J.R. Perez made it to the front page of FortBendNow twice today. A most startling story on the Fort Bend County Elections Administrator first appeared before noon today, disclosing Perez’ fears that there would not be enough of the Hart Intercivic “Dial-A-Vote” voting machines to service the upcoming March 4th primaries. Citing record turnouts in other states, Perez became concerned about having 40% of registered county voters actually showing up to vote in the primary.

A 40% turnout, it seems will crater our county’s voting system.

The voters, Perez has noted, are coming out to the polls in record numbers for a primary season. Democrats mainly. Democrats are most enthusiastically appearing at the polls this year in record numbers to make their wishes known – and maybe to cast a preliminary NO vote against all things Republican.

That notwithstanding, why is our county elections office under-equipped with voting machines? Have we been playing it fast and loose with past trends? Thinking that maybe the status quo is de rigueur here in Fort Bend County? Our commissioner’s court appears to be so enrapt with these high tech wonders, after all.

Now I am beginning to wonder whether that love affair that our county commissioners have had with Hart Intercivic and their abomination that they call a voting machine has all been part of a larger plan. A Karl Rove-ian- hatched plan that proposes to make it as hard as possible for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Such long, long lines and waiting periods were noted all over the county during the November ’06 general election. Clearly more machines were needed just to handle a mid-term general election. Now we have the biggest primary event to come to Texas in over 50 years, and . . . oh my . . . we don’t have enough machines to go around.

But wait, there’s more.

In the afternoon, Perez met with the commissioners who were pretty disturbed over all of this, especially about Perez’ comments to a Fox News reporter that he wasn’t going to be able to get enough machines for the county, that he would need to buy paper ballots and optical scanners to make up the shortfall, and that the county commissioners would not support him. “…we gave you everything you asked for,” said Precinct 4 commissioner Patterson.

Perez replied that he “recommended in August for paper ballots. I was overruled, and so I went out and bought more equipment.”

And now, since all of that equipment will not fulfill the needs of the county voters, Perez is now proposing to scrap the entire paperless ballot system.

Can I get a big HALLELUIAH?

Yes, J.R. Perez proposes that the county sell the Hart paperless system and buy optical scanners and paper ballots. He predicts that the county should get 50 cents on the dollar for the Hart Intercivic machines (although I would take another look at that market, J.R., I suspect that you’ll find the market pretty soft for paperless ballot machines these days).

So what bodes for the primary just 3 short weeks away? Nothing good. Perez says that he will just have “to grin and bear it. And I hope people appreciate standing in line”.

No, he said that, I didn’t make it up.

Famous last words on the subject come from our Precinct 2 commissioner, Democrat Grady Prestage, who quipped:
“For the primary, you don’t have a lot of choice, just go ahead and hunker down. We were a victim of trying to rush into technology. From everything I can see, we will be back to optical scan systems.”
That is, an optical scan system with a paper trail.

This underlines what lots of us have been saying. DON’T WAIT TO CAST YOUR BALLOT UNTIL MARCH 4th!!! Early voting is for EVERYONE. Avoid the lines and confusion. Early Voting for the March 4th primary starts Tuesday February 19th and goes through Friday February 29th.


infotokevin said...

blah, blah, blah-)
Useless liberal trite...

Hal said...

Useless liberal trite . . .

That's TRIPE! Useless liberal tripe!

I hate it when you guys get it wrong.

Now make like a tree and get out of here.

Anonymous said...

Our previous Elections Administrator BOASTED in the Houston Chronicle that Fort Bend Countians were TOO DUMB to use the optical scan ballots we'd been using for 20 years! He claimed it required hand counting for the many people who made marks other than coloring in the ovals.

There are ways to "game" optical scan ballots. The simplest is to only put reading machines in Republican precincts so that they can have do-overs of bad ballots, while Democrats naively put their bad ballots in a can. Another is to stipulate that the optical scan ballots CAN'T be hand-counted, but must be run through the machine again and again in recounts--even if the machine has a bad program.

I worked as a poll worker when the optical scan ballots were still used, and they only gave us two polling booths in our precinct. People who got frustrated waiting for the booths could just mark their ballots anywhere, while that's not possible with the electronic machine.