Your Heights Dry Zone Ballot Problem Didn’t Affect Yesterday’s Moist Election Outcome

Voting Signs, Houston

A pair of electorally-minded readers send in 2 separate claims that Prop. 1 — the H-E-B-backed Heights alcohol sales one, not the provoke-Texas-into-reforming-education-funding-by-messing-with-the-system one — didn’t show up on their ballots yesterday, even though they were each registered to vote in what the Tax Assessor’s office calls the boundaries of the historic dry zone. Hector DeLeon of the Harris County Clerk’s outreach department told Swamplot earlier today that in the 1 case of a missing ballot option they’d heard about and looked into — in the context of around a 25 percent and thousands-of-voters margin of victory for the pro-beer-and-wine-sales folks —  the problem appeared to be a voter not seeing where on the ballot the proposition was listed, rather than an actual missing option.

DeLeon does say, however, that while it’s extraordinarily rare, it’s not impossible that the local option election could have be left off of a few ballots. An election worker has to select some location info by hand in the process of generating the 4-digit voting machine access codes that voters get upon signing the polling place ledger; DeLeon says that can (and occasionally, does) leave room for a who-votes-on-what mistake, especially in the case of certain unusual election zones (like, say, the Lost City of Houston Heights). One reader claims a poll worker at the Helms Community Learning Center on W. 21st St. told him that this sort of input error had been made on some ballots shortly after the polls opened, and had been corrected for the voters who stuck around to sort it out and get a new code issued. (The reader, who had already cast their ballot and came back later to learn more about what had happened, says they didn’t get to cast a new one.) DeLeon also says that the county clerk’s office doesn’t keep any records of access code issues if they’re caused by human error and considered resolved at the site — so there would be no official documentation to check against the reader’s story.

Photo: Ed T [license]

Not Rigged, Just Human

5 Comment

  • Prop 1 passed by 2087 votes.
    There were 654 undervotes (voters who voted but didn’t vote on Prop 1), of which only 143 were on election day.
    BTW: 78% turnout in the damp Heights, and 72% of registered voters voted on Prop 1, compared to about 60% county-wide/55% nationally for the Presidential election.

  • I checked on nearly 10 claims related to this ballot concern, and in every case that I checked the voter did not live in the dry area — but they did live very close. It’s disappointing that the County Clerk is unable to offer greater assurances and documentation on all votes. It is a testament to the civic mindedness of Heights residents (both For and Against) that our turnout was so high and that the under-vote was minimal on a down ballot proposition. It’s also a relief.

  • Just looked up the results. It looks like the win was due to early voting results, before the Dry Heights campaign was in motion. The gap on election day is much smaller. With time it may have caused a completely different result. It is hard to educate the electorate on any prop, but they did some significant damage despite being grassroots and only having a tenth of HEB’s funding.

  • Yes, let’s look at the results. The win was not merely due to early voting results. The win was decisive at every level of voting — absentee, early, and election day. Even if you took the huge early voting total out of the equation, the damp vote dominated the prohibitionists. The prohibitionists merely received 34% in early voting when most people voted. And, the prohibitionists only got 40% when the more conservative voters who traditionally show up on election day voted. So let’s be clear, the prohibitionists never put a dent in anything. They were always far behind. They just went from an avalanche in early voting to a landslide on election day — with a cumulative huge landslide total loss. And, the well-funded prohibitionists were in motion on this for some time, they have just delayed reporting their spending to spin themselves as underdogs. Their message to “just be weird” was just an impossible sell with an educated electorate.

  • I guess this also means the small Kroger at Yale/20th could start selling beer & wine? That would be great – it’s a decent store that gets very little funding b/c their sales are relatively low (compared to 11th St and 43rd St).