August 27th, 2010
06:38 PM ET
9 years ago

TX voting equipment lost in fire

Washington (CNN) – Officials are scrambling to ensure that voting this fall will occur as planned in one Texas county after a fire destroyed $30 million worth of voting equipment early Friday morning.

The fire in the Harris County Election Technology Center located in northeast Houston destroyed more than 10,000 pieces of voting equipment. The damage to the facility was so severe fire officials had to tear down the entire building, according to Harris County Clerk Spokesman Hector DeLeon.

But DeLeon said they're working to guarantee a trouble free election despite the fire.

"Our goal is still to conduct the election according to the guidelines," said DeLeon.

The lost equipment included everything from voting booths to eSlates, a computer-based machine used for collecting votes.

"Vendors and other counties have been very helpful in offering to lend us some of their equipment," said DeLeon.

Asked if the fire would affect early voting which starts on October 18, DeLeon said the county is assessing and exploring its options. DeLeon said early voting is still encouraged just as it has been in past elections.

The Texas Secretary of State's office is also involved to help is given if needed.

"We may need to borrow voting equipment from other counties," said Texas Secretary of State communications director Randall Dillard. "We are still monitoring the situation and we have been in contact with the Harris County County Clerk's office."

In 2008, more than 63 percent of Harris County voters participated in early voting according to DeLeon. That's 746,000 Harris County voters who voted in person or by mail-in ballot. In 2000, only 737,000 voters attended early voting.

Harris County has 37 early voting locations according to DeLeon.

DeLeon said mail-in ballots would not be affected by the fire and are mailed to an Austin office.

The Texas Governor's race between incumbent Republican candidate Gov. Rick Perry and former Houston Mayor, Democrat Bill White has garnered much attention as a close race.

White told CNN in a statement, "This is a critically important election for the state as we confront an $18 billion budget hole. Texans are ready for a new governor. I encourage officials Harris County to do everything in their power to make sure no one is discouraged from exercising their right to vote."

Alejandro Garcia, spokesperson for Texans for Perry did not have a comment on the fire.

Texas early voting starts on October 18th and runs through the 29th.

Filed under: 2010 • Bill White • Rick Perry • Texas
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Frank in Valparaiso Indiana

    Jeez, LBJ used to stuff the ballot box, Perry burns the voting machines. Or does anybody know where Ron Paul was??

    August 27, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    They can upgrade to a new and improved program for the machines that counts 3/4 of the dem votes as republican this time.

    See? All is well in the heart of hypocricy.

    August 27, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  3. Marie MD

    Oh! Oh! Here we go. Texas is going to cheat in the elections!!! Can these people win an election without cheating???

    August 27, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  4. USA 1

    More Tea Party shenanigans...they will probably blame it on the President.

    August 27, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |