While the State is making voting harder, Harris County makes it easier

March 25, 2021

 

Harris County continues to make great strides in making voting easier.

Yesterday I had a demonstration of the new voting machines that will be in use for the May 1, 2021 elections. Unlike the “wheel” the new machines by Hart InterCivic Verity Duo are intuitive, easy to use and has a PAPER BALLOT! 

The process is easy. Check in. Enter your code via a touch screen. Insert your blank paper ballot. If necessary adjust the size of the text. Using the touch screen, select the candidates of your choice. Review your selection then print your ballot. Verify it again then scan it in the scanning machine print to leaving.

The ballots are counted and stored for recount purposes. The touch screen does NOT count votes or store your selections. It just provides an easy way to select your candidates and prints your ballot. If by chance your ballot is not correct, the election judge will invalidate the ballot and you will start over.

Couple this new system with the ability to vote at any early voting center and any voting center on Election Day and voting has become much easier. The County also provides a wait time notice on their website to determine how long the lines are and provides the voter with the ability to go to a site with shorter lines.

Meanwhile our State Representative Dennis Paul is working hard to limit mail in ballots, make voter registration more difficult, and make it illegal to pass out water to those standing in line.

#NoPlaceButTexas


State Representative Dennis Paul's HB1725 will end drop off boxes for voting

March 18, 2021

 


Yet another example of #NoPlaceButTexas. This is truly embarrassing.

Today House Bill 1725 will be heard in committee by Representative Dennis Paul. The bill will end the use of drop off boxes or drop off sites for mail in ballots. It begs the question “Why?”. Drop off boxes are in use in 40 states leaving Texas in a minority. Again. Voters can sit at the table, make their choices, then drop off their ballots while taking a walk to the grocery store. Here in Texas, or at least in Harris County, voters had the option of dropping the ballot off at their local county court house or at a drive through facility. They also had the opportunity to mail it.

Dennis Paul defended this stupidity with an email to his constituents:

If a person has the ability to make an in-person appearance, they are able to vote in person just as easily.  Those who are disabled, sick, elderly, and those who have lost faith in the USPS, can stand in long lines and sweat like a pig to vote like everyone else. 

OK. The last sentence wasn’t exactly what he said but you get the idea. The bill will be heard this morning. I am interested in hearing Paul stoop to a new low by carrying Abbotts political laundry.


State Representative Dennis Paul HD129 takes lead on bills restricting voting rights

March 1, 2021

Representative Dennis Paul is in a safe district. He will have that seat until he qualifies for a State provided pension or until he wants to leave. It is a solid red, red, red seat. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he is leading the way for the Republican Party on filing bills to make it more difficult to vote.

Here in Harris County our elected officials have made it very easy to vote. They created Voting Centers allowing voters to vote in any location during early voting and Election Day. They created drop off centers across the County allowing voters to drop their absentee ballot off and trace it’s progress. They created over night voting locations that 10s of thousands of voters used in 2020. In 2022 they will adopt new voting machines with a verifiable paper ballot. Unfortunately Dennis Paul has filed bills to stop most of this. 

Here are the bills Paul has filed:

HB 1725 will prohibit voters from using a drop off site for their absentee ballot. 

HB 2265 confirms there will never be more than 12 hours of Early Voting on any day during the Early Voting Period. No voting earlier than 7:00 a.m. and no voting later than 7:00 p.m. This prevents 24-hour voting as some counties set up in 2020. 

HB 2263 makes it clear that Election Officials may not cure an unsigned, incomplete, or incorrect Voter Registration Application, Ballot, or Ballot by Mail Application. The bill also requires that on any candidate’s Petition in Lieu of a Filing Fee, if the document had to be notarized twice it must be accompanied with a signed affidavit explaining what was cured, by whom, and when after the first notarization.


HB 2264 creates consistency in the number of votes required to appoint or terminate an Election Administrator. It will now be a 4/5 majority to appoint or terminate on both the County Election Commission and the County Commissioners Court. 

HB 2266 prevents 3rd party vendors. There is already a very specific procedure in place for the appointment of Election Judges, Clerks, and other Election Officials, where political parties submit their appointees and are approved by Commissioner’s Court. This bill makes it very clear that a person may not be hired as a Presiding or Alternate Judge, a Clerk, a Signature Verification Committee member, or a Ballot Board member except as explicitly provided in the current procedure. This will prevent election workers from being hired through third-party agencies.


HB 2267 allows retail fireworks permits to be purchased through the Internet. The Texas Department of insurance will post a link to the website through their agency website.

HB2267 has nothing to do with voting but it beg the question “What idiot thought of this idea?”


Texas Representative "Money" Mayes Middleton files bill to restrict voting….on MLK day

January 18, 2021

Texas Representative “Money” Mayes Middleton of Galveston spent over $2.5 million of his own money to win a seat in the Texas House. If this race was competitive, and it wasn’t,  he would have needed about $500,000 to win. His opponent raised only $4000 and had absolutely no idea what it meant to run besides running. So Money Mayes won and is doing the bidding of the Republican Party to limit access to voting. 

Money Mayes has filed House Bill 1026 which will remove deputy voter registrars from registering voters on behalf of the county. VDRs reach out to potential voters to help them register. They are responsible for registering the vast majority of new voters. They are required to train every 2 years and there are serious consequences for breaking the rules of the program. I personally have never heard about any abuse of this program but that doesn’t stop Money Mayes.

I am sure Money will say something like “I’m protecting the sanctity of the vote” or something like that. Money really should look up the word sanctity as in the “sanctity of marriage” when it comes to Donald Trump. LOL They have no idea what the word means

Watch for other Representatives like Dennis Paul HD129 to co-sponsor this stupidity. You can track this and other bills at LegiScan.


Combined Primary Voting Locations

June 22, 2019

I had the opportunity to meet with the Harris County Clerk, Diana Trautman, and her staff to discuss combined primary voting locations. Her staff provided a demonstration of the proposed process which included a complete voting location setup with voting machines, check in tables, and the staff needed to conduct the demonstration. The demo was conducted very professionally. Great job to the entire office!

Current process
A voter enters a voting location, selects the line for their party, declares their intentions to vote in that primary, checks in, and votes. Each different process is operated by the members of that particular party.

Combined Primary Locations
The new process is operated by both parties, sitting side by side. There are no different lines for different parties. Everyone, just like in general voting, stands in the same line. Once they check in they will be asked to select which party they intend to vote in. (see pic below) This choice is presented to the voter on the iPad. The ballot is presented to the voter at the voting booth based upon the party choice.

Advantages of the new process

  1. It saves the county an estimated $285,000. Who can possibly be against that?
  2. The Voter’s party preference is protected from disclosure to others in line. 
  3. Voters of the minority party in the voting location would not be intimidated by the longer lines of the majority party.
  4. In the current process the dominant party of a voting location may use the entire voting location sending the minority party somewhere else. Case in point here in Clear Lake a minority party location was established 5 miles away from their usual voting location. 
  5. It makes it easier to vote and to participate in the process

Disadvantages of the new process?
I asked this question of the Clerk and staff. They could not identify any disadvantages. I have heard the Republican Party is concerned about solving a problem that doesn’t exist. This coming from the party that gave us Voter ID laws to address a problem that doesn’t existed. The Chair of the Republican Party had to dig deep to find something to complain about and it was based on incorrect information:

“The Democrat County Clerk’s proposed joint primary elections would empower the bureaucrats and, worse, let one party’s workers run the other party’s primary election that to selects its candidates, running the risk of disenfranchising, inconveniencing, and confusing voters.”

Whats next?
The primaries are the responsibility of each party. The Clerk’s office provides the equipment and support for the voting process. This new process must be approved by each party. Currently one party, the Democratic Party, is on board. The Republican Party is not. Hopefully that will change.

The bottom line
This process saves tax payers money. It’s more secure. It makes it easier for people to participate in the process. Who can possibly against that?


Harris County Voting Centers

June 20, 2019
From The Houston Chronicle

Harris County Commissioners have voted in favor of creating County wide Voting Centers as proposed by County Clerk Diane Trautman. What does this mean to voters and what’s the downside? I was fortunate to be invited to Trautman’s office to discuss this as well as the proposed Combined Primary voting locations. (more on the primaries later)

Early Voting
Early voting will not change. If you vote early you simply vote at any early voting location in Harris County. Unlike in the past these locations will also be available for voting on Election Day.

Election Day
On Election Day voters can vote at ANY voting location in any precinct or at any early voting location. There are no longer “Precinct” voting locations. Instead there are “voting centers” located in your precinct. So on Election Day you simply vote where you used to vote in your precinct, or at any early voting location in Harris County, or at any voting center in any precinct in Harris County. Got it?

On Election Day in 2018 we helped about 100 voters who came to the Clear Lake Library, an early voting location, find their precinct voting location. Now those individuals would simply vote there on Election Day. All the early voting locations in Harris County will be available on Election Day.

Finding a place to vote
On Election Day you can access the County Clerks website, enter an address, and it will display the 5 nearest voting centers along with an indication of how heavy the traffic is at that location. (Red, Yellow, Green lights) So a voter could vote close to their work, or school, or anywhere in the County.

The Downside
So voting centers might sound too good to be true. What’s the catch? For voters there is no catch. It’s easier. It’s just plain easier to vote.

For candidates and their consultants who pour over the election results as they come in an attempt to predict the outcome based upon precinct voting, it’s not going to be that easy. Since there are no “precinct voting locations” that analysis will not be able to be performed since someone could vote in a different voting center in a different precinct. Candidates locked in a close election may have to wait till all the locations have been counted.

The bottom line
The use of voting centers was not to help the consultants predict when to pop the champagne. They were created to help the voter voter. And it will.

Great job Harris County Clerk and staff!


Tea party having a suppress the vote mtg in Clear Lake

March 23, 2019

The Kingwood and Galveston County tea party is hosting an event to discuss ways to further suppress the vote in Texas probably due to the results of the November election. What is disturbing is that our own State Representatives are sponsoring this including Senator Larry Taylor and State Reps David Money Mayes Middleton and Dennis Paul. They must be scared of what is coming in 2020.

A full report will follow.


Wonder why the TX Secretary of State quit?

February 8, 2019

Rolando Pablo abruptly quit as Secretary of State after just 2 years on the job and after the incredible losses of the 2018 elections. From his press release:

With the midterm elections successfully [LOL] behind us, and the 86th legislative session around the comer, I believe this would be a good time to begin the process of transitioning out of my position and passing the baton to the next secretary of state. Serving Texans as Secretary of State has been an opportunity of a lifetime, but I feel the need at this time to turn my attention to my private practice. 

Just a few months after leaving the office acting SOS, David Whitley, released an advisory to local election officials claiming, incorrectly, that 95,000 non citizens were registered to vote. Some officials like Cheryl Johnson of Galveston County immediately began a purge of these voters and have since been sued for pre-mature purging. The Houston Chronicle has since called for a No vote on Whitley’s confirmation:

Normally, we wouldn’t weigh in on a confirmation hearing for a gubernatorial pick to a low-profile office in Austin. This year, we’ll not only weigh in on David Whitley’s appointment to the office of Texas secretary of state. We’ll recommend a loud and resounding: NO.


Back to Pablo. I would not be surprised to find out that Pablo was directed, instructed, or was strongly encouraged to call for this purge and he refused to do it. So instead of going along with a violation of voting rights he quit. A number of organizations has filed suit and we may find out that this speculation might just be true.

So…what did he know and when did he go?


Before you praise Dan Crenshaw….

November 13, 2018

You might want to look at Dan Crenshaw platform before ooooing and ahhhing over him.

  • Guns on demand. As with his party he talks a tough game on background checks (only) but his party will not do anything. Other than that it is guns on demand for everyone. Want an Uzi? You got it!
  • Military spending. He supports Trump’s military build up and his attack on our allies.
  • Supports the tax cut. He supports the tax cut for the 2% which has cratered the deficit.
  • Supports cutting Social Security. In order to pay for the tax cuts he supports cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicare. All to appease the 2%.
  • Abortion. No surprises here.
  • Immigration. Supports building the wall, separating families, and trump’s immigration plans.
  • Religious discrimination. Believes in discriminating of those who have different religious beliefs. He calls it “Freedom”. The freedom to discriminate.
  • School Vouchers. He supports school vouchers allowing the rich to pick and choose their own schools.
  • Free Speech. He believes we are too “politically correct”. Whatever that means.
  • Healthcare. Yells SOCIALISM every chance he gets. He wants us to go back to the way it was before the Affordable Care Act. His positions have all been shown to be bad ideas and have never been implemented for good reasons. He basically has no idea of what he is talking about. Lucky for him and his family, they are covered for life by the US Military.
  • Doesn’t believe in climate change. Nothing to see here. Typical anti-science republican.
Crenshaw was given a great opportunity to look like a human being on Saturday Night Live. He made the best of it acting like he is the middle of the road, let’s come together, blah blah blah, type of guy. He isn’t. 
NOTE: I was incorrect. The Houston Chronicle Endorsed Todd Litton not Crenshaw. 

Rebooting the Harris County Republican Party

November 13, 2018

The out going Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett, says the Harris County Republican Party needs a reboot after getting a boot shoved so far up their butt their breath will smell like Desenex for the next two years. Emmett waited a bit too long to finally speak up.

I’m sure the HCRP is not interested in very pointed ideas coming from a former Republican but here are some ideas they might want to consider:

  1. Dump Trump. You made a mistake in 2016. Trump has turned your party into a group of racist, lying, cheating, conspiracy theory, rotten assholes. That stench might be hard to wash off but wash you must.
  2. Don’t be racist. It’s sad someone has to tell you not to be a racist. Racism is bad. Really, really, baaaaad. Not only should you not be a racist you should speak out against those who are., immediately and forcefully. Your party tolerates and condones racism. That must stop.
  3. Stop acting like a bag of dicks. Seriously. Why do you have to praise people like Sid Miller the mini trump of the Texas Republican Party. Can’t you at least act as if you have the title “The Honorable” in front of your name?
  4. Don’t call women the C word. Again. Why do we have to tell you this? You are not in Jr. High. Grow up and treat women with respect and call out those who don’t. If you are a republican woman who is condoning this type of behavior maybe a course on self esteem is warranted.
  5. Stop suppressing the vote. Everyone citizen has the right to vote and should have the right to exercise that right. You act like you want to restrict voting by making it harder to register and harder to vote. Stop it.
  6. Dump the NRA. They have become a boat anchor. Americans are tired of being shot. High school kids are rising up for this issue alone. You are on a long term losing path. Even the NRA was silent during this election. They are hurting you. No one is coming for your guns. Start acting like it.
  7. Stop lying. No one is coming for our guns. There isn’t an invasion coming from the south. There is no voter fraud. There is no need for a voter ID. There were no WMDs. Stop lying to your party members.
  8. Stop spending money. What the hell happened to the “Fiscally Conservative” party? Our country under republican rule now has a $1Trillion deficit just so your party could give your donors a huge tax cut.
  9. Embrace health care. No one wants to mortgage their house to pay for treatment for their kids. Your health care plan has failed. 
  10. Stop saying “Conservative”.  And finally, you are not conservative. Stop saying your are. You no longer have conservative or family values. As I have said before:

Conservatives do not mock the disabled.
They don’t create massive out of control deficits.
They don’t make jokes about those dying of cancer.
They don’t violate or ignore the laws of our country.
They don’t tolerate sexual abuse.
They don’t tolerate family violence.
They don’t interrupt people while talking.
They don’t call people names.
They don’t say racist things.
They don’t refer to Native Americans as “Pocahontas”
They don’t make fun of other peoples language.
They don’t call people of color “rapists”.
They don’t call Muslims “terrorists”.
They don’t endorse hate groups, the KKK, or white supremacy.
They don’t disrespect elected officials even those they disagree with.
They don’t lie. Every. Single. Day.
They don’t walk around with loaded assault weapons in public.


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