As if on cue, I ran a post about restoring competence to local government, and voila, within hours, people started reporting voting problems across Harris County. The problems appear widespread, intermittent and random. They were not limited to areas that leaned Republican or Democratic.
Long Wait Times
The main effect? Long wait times. One location reported a five-hour line! At another location, a source told me that fifty people were turned away.
The main reasons: Scanners that wouldn’t scan; printers that wouldn’t print; missing supplies; internet glitches; lost keys; lack of testing; not enough setup time; and not enough technical support to resolve issues quickly.
Central Kingwood Mid-Day Report
I personally visited six locations in Kingwood between 11 am and 2 pm. At each, I talked to multiple people.
Four locations seemed to run smoothly. Two had long lines and delays (Kingwood Community Center, Foster Elementary). The problems at the Community Center were unclear. At Foster, several machines went down. Voters experienced half-hour to one-hour wait times at these two locations.
At Foster, people exiting talked about scanners being down. Officials asked them to put their ballots in a box and said they would be counted later. Given the level of distrust and skepticism lately, the voters immediately suspected the worst.
One person complained about his ballot misprinting. It printed Page 1 twice, but wouldn’t print Page 2 at all. Another complained of scanners shredding his ballot.
Handicapped voting seemed to be a problem everywhere. At Kingwood Middle School, a friend and I had to help an elderly woman get from her vehicle to inside the polling location. Elsewhere, I noticed handicapped people coming out of polling places on scooters. Most locations had traffic cones in the handicapped parking places. Several people complained about handicapped call buttons not working or not being accessible.
No Problems at Some Locations
Creekwood Middle School, Good Shepherd Episcopal, Woodland Hills Elementary, and Kingwood Middle School seemed to function properly at mid-day. Many other locations may have been functioning properly, too; I just didn’t check them all.
The last three locations are all adjacent to each other on Woodland Hills Drive between Tree Lane and Pine Terrace Drive.
If you experience problems at your normal voting location, you should be able to vote at any one of them. They’re all within a block of each other. And if one goes down, you have two backups nearby. Also, because of their proximity, the lines are short – at least they were at mid-day.
Wait-Time System May or May Not Work
HarrisVotes.com is supposed to show the wait times at polling locations near you. But caution, if you see zero in line, it may be an error. Both party election officials and Harris County employees have told me the system malfunctioned throughout early voting. It often reported no lines when lines were down the block. So before you get in your car, have some backups in mind.
Remember, if you’re in line when the polls normally close at 7, they have to let you vote.
Late Breaking News
At 6:20 PM, the Houston Chronicle reported that a Harris County district judge signed an order keeping the polls open until 8 PM because of all the problems experienced today. They were originally set to close at 7 PM. However, anyone who arrives after 7 PM will have to vote a provisional ballot, a long, complicated process.
In the future, I hope Texas adopts a voting period, and drops the charade of early voting and Election Day. This should simplify procedures and logistics for both election workers and voters. Why do we expand the number of machines and polling locations AFTER most people have voted?
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/8/2022
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