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2010: Few Hiccups With Harris County Ballots

A fire in August that destroyed thousands of electronic voting machines in Houston prolonged the release of Harris County voting totals. Despite the delay, election officials expect to decide close races early Wednesday morning. But the outcome of one hotly contested race is known: Bill White defeated Rick Perry in his home county by a margin of less than 2 percent.

Paper-ballot boxes flood Reliant Center, where Harris County officials convened to count thousands of paper ballots.

It appears Bill White did take Harris County after all. A fire in August that destroyed thousands of electronic voting machines in Houston prolonged the timely release of Harris County voting totals after voters used more paper ballots than in previous election years due to a lack of equipment. After early voting totals were released, White was losing in Houston, where he served three terms as mayor. With just less than 99 percent of the precincts in the county reporting, however, White had moved ahead of Perry, 384,819 to 372,408, less than a 2 percent margin.

Hector de Leon, the Harris County director of communications and voter outreach, said he and his team, which assembled in droves at Reliant Park, were performing better than expected. Despite still needing to count thousands of paper ballots used on Tuesday, de Leon said at about 11 p.m. he expected his staff to finish up “in a few hours.”

The main hiccup in the process was not being able to call some of the closer local races, he said, because there was no way of telling which districts the paper ballots were being delivered from. State Rep. Ellen Cohen, a Democrat, was trailing her opponent Sarah Davis by less than 2,000 votes after about 52 percent of the ballots had been counted. But an hour later the margin actually increased slightly, all but sealing the deal for the challenger. For state Rep. Hubert Vo, however, it was worth the wait. With 52 percent of the precincts reporting, Vo, a Democrat, was trailing challenger Jack O’Conner by 901 votes. An hour later, however, Vo had pulled ahead by more than 1,300 votes.




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2010 elections