County ready for voting problems

March 4, 2008 3:45:55 AM PST
Voters who have trouble in a polling place usually call the county clerk's office and that's true of the primaries, for certain kinds of problems."The most frequent call we receive is where do I go vote and that is a very legitimate one because we are going to have two elections going on Tuesday," said Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman.

The Democrats have fewer polling places than the Republicans and not all precinct locations will be open to voters in both parties. If you plan to vote in the Democratic or Republican primaries, it is important to know where to go. For those questions, the clerk's office is the best place to get an answer.

But for cases of fraud, Kaufman has other advice.

"If you think someone is buying votes or helping someone too much, I would call your party head quarters," said Kaufman.

Both political parties have primary officials working Tuesday.

"If it's a mechanical, if it's a voting rights issue, just about anything would come to our main office and directed to the appropriate area," said Martha Cottingham in the Harris County Democratic Party.

The Democrats will have a full staff of primary officials answering phones and a legal team ready to spring into action. The Republican Party will also be answering calls, but officials here expect fewer issues because turn out is expected to be lighter on the Republican side.

"We don't have a combined primary in Texas, so each person has to call their party of choice," said Jeff Yates with the Harris County Republican Party. "If they are voting in the Republican Party and there is a problem, call us and we will direct them to the proper authority."

One problem that is guaranteed to be an issue, nearly 8,000 first time voters who registered to participate in the primaries will not be able to cast a ballot Tuesday because they did not register 30 days prior to the primary.

"State law has been this way for a long time, it says you cannot be registered if you do not turn in the registration 30 days in advance," said Harris County Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt.

If you want to see the phone numbers for the Harris County Democratic or Republican parties, click here.

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