Glitches still abound in Fort Bend Co. as early voting continues

Tom Abrahams Image
Friday, October 16, 2020
The problems early voters in Fort Bend Co. faced on day 3
ABC13 reporter Tom Abrahams gives a recap of how the third day of early voting went in Fort Bend County. You'll want to watch this if you're headed to the polls this week.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Early voting in Texas kicked off on Oct. 13, and the two major counties that span the Greater Houston area had some differing results in the first few days.

As Harris County boasted a record breaking early voter turnout, Fort Bend County had some rough spots that election officials worked hard to fix so everyone in line could still vote.

On Thursday morning, one voting location, the Four Corners Community Center, opened later than its scheduled 8 a.m. time.

"They took the first people at 8:20 (a.m.)," said Betty Kindred, who was waiting in line. "8:20. And then it took them about 15 minutes to get to us. And then when I got to the check-in place, it froze. The computer froze."

"We didn't come the first day because we thought there might be problems," Betty's sister said. "Second day, we wanted to make sure they got it straightened out. We came today. We thought it would be smoother, and it wasn't."

While the judge on site didn't come outside to confirm or explain the issue, election supervisor John Oldham explained the polling site was using new virtually touchless check-in hardware, but the connectivity failed for a brief period on Thursday.

"We felt like the advantage of touchless technology outweighed the risk," he said.

On the first day of early voting, many of the ballot casting machines weren't working when the polls opened. What had happened was the machines were set for the original early voting dates, not reset to include the one week extension Gov. Greg Abbott had approved.

READ MORE: Programming error at the root of Ft. Bend Co.'s early vote issues, says county judge

Fort Bend County Judge KP George, whose duties aren't related to election administration and who isn't on the ballot this year, was there to quell any fears.

"I just want our citizens to know we are doing everything possible to address this issue and move forward because I don't want them discouraged," he said.

Long lines were another issue many early voters faced. Even though lines wrapped around some voting locations like a Smart Financial Center in Sugar Land and the county annex building in Rosenberg, Fort Bend County didn't set early voting records like other parts of Texas did.

On Tuesday, 12,843 people who live in the county voted, which is fewer than the number of people who voted on the first day of early voting two years ago. First day glitches likely accounted for that number. On Wednesday, the number surged to more than 20,000, and Thursday's total could equal that of the first two days with roughly 33,000 people who came out.

"I think we will see record numbers before it's all over," Oldham said.

Six percent of the county's more than 482,000 voters cast ballots the first two days. Many of the people who decided to continue waiting in the long lines said they wanted to make sure they got their voices heard.

"I think people are concerned about their right to vote," Betty said.

Despite the glitches, Fort Bend County leaders said they are doing everything they can to make the voting experience a good one, and they want to assure voters that when they do cast their votes, the ballots are secure, and they count.


How to score a free ride to the polls to vote in the 2020 Election

What you need to know about early voting

Follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.