Harris County Clerk addresses long lines on Super Tuesday

Congressman Al Green was at South Early College High School on Tuesday where voters waited hours to cast their ballots. The last ballot in Harris County was cast at Texas Southern University (TSU) around 1:20 a.m.

Harris County Clerk, Diane Trautman says, with countywide voting and early voting numbers at TSU, turnout there was difficult to predict.

"The average daily turnout for TSU during early voting was 50. I think there was even one day with zero," she explained.

However, Trautman insists there were many other factors that contributed to the long lines. First, was the sheer turnout. This primary 271,354 people voted compared to 231,650 in 2008, according to the Harris County Clerk's Office. 

Trautman also mentioned long ballots, old equipment, and having to reboot it when additional machines were brought in.

"Every time we sent new equipment out it caused a suspension of all the other machines until the new ones could be hooked up," she added.

Both Green and Trautman mentioned new poll workers who are selected by the party. 

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"I am currently of the opinion that the poll workers were trained but I’m not sure that the nuances of the process were completely understood," Green said.

Finally, Trautman mentioned the allocation of voting machines and parties deciding whether or not they would like a joint primary. She says each poll location had an average of 10 machines for each party because the Harris County GOP party did not want a joint primary.

"We did not want to short one party over the other because how do we know, again, with [county-wide] voting centers that a big rush isn’t going to come in on the Republican or Democratic side and that would be discrimination," she stated.

Paul Simpson, Harris County GOP chairman, firing back saying they didn’t want a joint primary because they didn’t want Republicans waiting in long Democratic lines. Instead, he says, they insisted the Democrats have more machines given the interest of the Democratic presidential primary.

"What we did suggest to avoid the problem to the county clerk was to have a different number of machines for both parties at different locations but the county clerk failed to follow that advice," Simpson said.

For the general election in November, Trautman says they will have 750 poll locations and her office is working on getting additional voting machines.

She also says they plan to do more to educate voters about county-wide voting and having sample ballots ready.