Verify: Protecting the vote in Harris County

Donald Trump has said that voter fraud is happening in this year's election, we took a look into Trump's claims to verify if there is anything to worry about.

On the campaign trial, Donald Trump has spent the last couple of days criticizing America’s electoral process.

To emphasize his point, Trump tweeted Monday morning: “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”

So how big of a risk is Harris County at for voter fraud?

"Being a little skeptical is a healthy thing,” said Stan Stanart, Harris County Clerk, during a news conference in early October.

Stanart says he’s confident Harris County’s eSlate voting machines cannot be hacked despite recent concerns raised by the FBI.

"Nobody has ever actually done it,” Stanart said.

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, a Republican, says protecting the vote starts first by strictly following state and federal election codes.

Secondly, he says the county voter registration database is backed up every single day in three places, with several triggers to warn if anything is changed.

"There are many, many eyes from both parties in every step of the process,” said Stanart, who said election workers are chosen by each party to carefully watch over detailed setup, testing, and accuracy checks of the voting machines during a public event.

Election judges from both parties also make sure the machines haven't been tampered with and make sure that before the first ballot is cast, the vote count starts at “zero”.

Each vote made in the voting machine goes on an encrypted electronic card, the election judge takes that card, and puts it in a mobile ballot box. The vote is then dropped off at one of four locations in Harris County to be entered into the voting totals.

"The computer used to tabulate the official votes is never connected to the Internet,” said Stanart. “On election night, results are literally walked over to the computer that is on the county's secure network and uploaded to HarrisVotes.com.”

That printout is available to election judges, and assistant election judges, and poll watchers, like those Trump has called for nationwide. They're appointed, and allowed to observe things like vote counting, accumulation and signature verification, and any interaction between voters and election workers.

“If you’d like to work and be one of those eyes, please join us,” said Stanart.
Poll watchers are appointed by either a political party, candidate, or proponents or opponents of a measure. You must be a registered voter, and you can't be related or employed by an election judge or clerk at that same polling place. To see more of the requirements, click here.

The nonprofit News21 found more than 360 allegations of voter fraud in Texas between the 2012 primary and July 2016, but only 15 cases have been prosecuted by the Texas Attorney General’s Office during that time.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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