Problems with election machines leave Harris County voters frustrated

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County election officials vow they'll figure out what went wrong Tuesday to make sure it doesn't happen again, especially after some voters walked away from long voting lines.

Trine Webb said she felt frustrated when she tried to vote curbside at a Katy location. Webb said staff blamed technical problems for the hour-and-a-half wait. She said they eventually took her number and promised to call her back when the machines came online, but she never received a call. After being unable to cast a ballot in the election, Webb expressed her frustrations at the elections administrator.

"My vote didn't count because I didn't get to vote," said Webb. "She failed the people. There's no sugarcoating it. She failed the people. If I didn't get to vote (Tuesday), that's already a negative on your side. God knows how many other people that were in my same health condition didn't get to vote because of this. Failure. It's a big F in my report card."

Nadia Hakim with Harris County Elections said the rollout of new machines at more than 700 polling locations did prompt some problems. They said their office tried responding as fast as possible to precinct judges. Technical issues did cause delays at some places.

"It was a little bit of a slow start to the day," said Hakim. "We did have some polling locations that took several minutes to figure it out and get those machines going. Again, this was their first time working with those new machines. We had been working with those old machines for the past 20 years."

Hakim offered her apologies to any voters who felt frustrated by the process. They vowed they'll do better in the next elections. She also said an overloaded circuit at their central voting location caused a delay in processing votes and a delay in reporting those results to the public. She said they plan on increasing their staff to help tackle technical issues quicker.

"We're looking at getting more tabulation machines to get those results processed faster," said Hakim. "We're looking at more backup systems for our power at our central count station. We're just looking to provide more support to those election judges."

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