As a follow up to John Ferguson’s story ("Despite Iowa, officials say county voting secure," The Daily News, Feb. 9) our elections are secure and here's why:

• All of the voting equipment we have has been thoroughly tested and certified by federal and state authorities for use in Texas.

• Election equipment cannot be hacked. To hack, one needs access to the equipment. None of the voting machines, nor the computers used to program the ballots, are connected to the internet (e.g., no access). Additionally, the “brains” of every deployed voting machine is locked with a key that only the county election staff have. Each “brain” has a numbered seal which is checked and verified when returned to central count. If any tampering were to occur that seal would need to be broken and be obvious to election officials.

So, contrary to Laura Pressley, and those who subscribe to her conspiracy theories, there's no hacking of voting machines at the polls.

Back at central count there are additional safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of our elections:

• The ballots are programmed by three county employees working together and none of the equipment is touched without at least two of them being in the room.

• On election night Republican and Democrat judges are in the counting station overseeing the tabulation process.

• Additionally, there's an audit trail that records every action taken on the tallying equipment.

So, suggestions that “…elections across the state of Texas were being hacked and manipulated…” are ludicrous. Just as ridiculous is the idea that if the candidates a person supports aren't elected it proves the election was “rigged.” I ran for Congress but lost, not because a flaw in the election process.

Meanwhile, Pressley and some in the state legislature want to force counties to have a paper backup to the electronic vote. They want paper ballots if there’s a recount, assuming they're more reliable. Unfortunately, their reliability is questionable.

In November 2010 when I was serving as the presiding judge of central count, we ran the Logic and Accuracy test. Here's how it works:

• Paper test ballots are prepared that include all the possible voting combinations for each race and each precinct. These are scanned, just like the actual ballots by mail.

• These test paper ballots are then voted on the electronic voting machines.

The results from both should agree, thus verifying the accuracy of the electronic tallying equipment. This was done and everything balanced. Then one other step was added; they did a manual count for further verification. The first manual count didn’t match the machine results. A second manual count was done and it didn’t agree with the first manual count nor the electronic count (that already balanced). The bottom line is whenever you rely upon manual counting of paper ballots you introduce human error; the results are usually not accurate. Why spend over $3 million in taxpayer dollars to upgrade to a paper back up when what we have works?

So, when Dwight Sullivan, your county clerk, says our elections are secure, believe him. He’s telling the truth.

Bill Sargent served as the county’s chief deputy clerk for elections for more than six years and helped improve the Texas Election Code.

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(50) comments

Mike Zeller

Laura Pressley(R) has signed on to the ludicrous conspiracy claim that "more than 280,000 non-citizens in Texas are registered to vote, with another 4,000,000 registered voters in question." You can always find a few votes, here and there, that someone cast by mistake or weren't vetted properly at the polls. Mr Sargent, I'll take your word, we have nothing to worry about, here in Galveston County, and I will add the entire State of Texas.

Carlos Ponce

Two different issues, Mike. This column dismisses the possibility of hacking the system. Fraudulent voting by non-citizens is a different matter and has occurred in this county evident by those who are called to jury duty from voter rolls but who then claim non-citizen status as reason for dismissal.

Emile Pope

Unless you have evidence of widespread voting by non citizens your comments are unsupported. Furthermore, people are also selected for jury duty when they possess a driver's license or Texas identification card. And you don't have to be a citizen to acquire one. So unless you have proof that non-citizens were selected from only voter rolls then everything you wrote is unproven.

Carlos Ponce

Unless Emile has evidence that there are NO non-citizens on voter rolls, his statement is unsupported. Each vote can change an entire election. Consider just one vote per county. I consider that "widespread".

Emile Pope

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/04/26/texas-voter-purge-state-settles-lawsuit-over-attempt-trim-voter-lists/3593055002/

https://prospect.org/civil-rights/texas-tried-mess-voting.-failed./

Carlos Ponce

DPS records were used to question the current status of those who indicated they were not citizens when applying for a driver's license or ID card. The term "purged" is used in the articles. That was hyperbole. Without proof the individuals were not citizens, no one was removed from the voter rolls without due process.

Jim Forsythe

Below are some of the people that are eligible to hold a Texas driver's license, or hold a Texas identification card but can not serve on a jury.. They are doing the right thing by informing the court they are not eligible to be on a jury.

By showing up and stating that they are not eligible, they are following the LAW Anyone that thinks this is wrong, that they are doing something against the law, needs to rethink why they think so. How many citizens do not show up for jury duty until threaten with a fine or jail? These Lawful Permanent Resident's are following the law and you want to complain about them!

Some of the ways one becomes a Lawful Permanent Resident

American Indian born in Canada (First Nations) -- An applicant may refer to the Jay Treaty, 8 U.S.C. § 1359, or 8 C.F.R. § 289.2 and may present a variety of documents. Issuance cannot occur without approval of the documents by Austin headquarters. DLD Personnel: make copies of documentation and seek approval through the chain of command.

Lawful Permanent Resident such as one with -- Permanent Resident Card (I-551)  Resident Alien Card (I-551) – card issued without expiration date  Valid Immigrant Visa (with adit stamp) and unexpired foreign passport  Unexpired foreign passport stamped with temporary I-551 language (adit stamp), "Approved I-551," or "Processed for I-551"  I-94 stamped with temporary I-551 language (adit stamp), "Approved I551," or "Processed for I-551" Lawful Permanent Resident Note: I-151, the predecessor to I-551, is not acceptable as proof of permanent resident status.

Lawful Permanent Resident are following the law that require the following.

Also if one is a Texas resident they can have Texas driver's license, or hold a Texas identification card . They are following the law that states, they must complete a driver's license or ID application. All residents must procure a Texas state driver's license or ID card within 90 days of moving to Texas.

To become a Texas resident one must first establish a home in any town in Texas. This entails buying or renting property and subsequently receiving mail at that address.

Bailey Jones

I'm not concerned with "hacking" of election machines, at least not in Texas. I'm not concerned about fraudulent voting by non-citizens, since widespread fraud has never been proved (despite the prez spending millions on a commission to investigate it), and Texas has securely locked down the voting process (to the point where I'm afraid that some Texas voters will be in for a rude surprise come voting day).

I am concerned with a repeat of the media "hacking" we saw in 2016, by Russia, using fake social media accounts to spread lies, misinformation, and false conspiracy theories. I am also concerned about the gullibility of voters to believe and propagate this misinformation. I hope my fellow Texans will assert their intellectual independence and not be duped by the purveyors of lies.

Carlos Ponce

Anyone who believes social media postings, shame on them! Consider the source. Social media is considered unreliable - to anyone with a brain.

Bailey Jones

It's not just social media (but that's where most people get their politics these days) - it's any media that's not legit news. That includes talking heads - Hannity, Carlson, Pirro, Cavuto - the whole Fox News opinion crowd, Maddow, O'Donnell, Matthews - the whole MSNBC opinion crowd, Lemon, Burnett, Cuomo - the whole CNN opinion crowd, certainly Info Wars, Limbaugh, Beck, Breitbart, and of course, @realDonaldTrump.

A good place to check on your sources is https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/

Emile Pope

Maddow isn't about opinion. She gives facts justify her conclusions. Fox makes a conclusion based upon their opinion. And their "facts" are almost always republican talking points repeatedly stated by right wing pundits that have no basis in fact. That's why Fox viewers are shown the least informed of all.

Carlos Ponce

Nice joke about Maddow, Emile![beam]

Bailey Jones

I like Rachel, but her analysis is a little too speculative for my taste. She does a good job at presenting facts, she just tends to read too much into them. But at least she's not all Trump tweets and fake conspiracies like Hannity & Co.

Carlos Ponce

Hate to tell you this, Bailey, but what Democrats deem are conspiracy theories from Hannity have been proven true.

Bailey Jones

I know you're a Hannity fan, Carlos - that's why I discount everything you say and believe.

Carlos Ponce

Then tell us, Bailey, one alleged Hannity conspiracy theory that has not panned out.

Bailey Jones

Again, Carlos? We've been through this before. Have you tried B12 supplements? I find they are great for my memory.

I need to offer a single metric - on a program where the main discussion is what's wrong with the country, Hannity has NEVER contradicted, criticized, or challenged Donald Trump - and has appeared at his campaign rallies. That should be enough proof of his inadequacy as a source of "news". But since you asked - pizzagate, Seth Rich, Hillary's "illness", Hillary drunk, Hillary having seizures, Hillary and "Uranium One", Ted Cruz's dad killed JFK, QAnon and the "deep state", Sharia law, climate change is a hoax, Obamacare = death panels, the Bidens and everything Ukraine.

How many of these do you believe, Carlos?

Carlos Ponce

"Hannity has NEVER contradicted, criticized, or challenged Donald Trump " Your statement indicates you either don't listen to his radio show, don't watch hi television show or you're not paying attention.

Bailey Jones

I'll put you down for "all of them".

Carlos Ponce

In a commentary show, items in the news are presented for discussion. These topics probably did occur on his show without endorsement.

Karen Alberstadt

Didn't Iowa use some type of app for part of their caucus process? I'm not sure how an app could be used in our voting system, but surely that's an opportunity for hackers.

Bailey Jones

Iowa did use an app. A very poorly designed, untested, and insecure one. Voting should never use anything that connects to the Internet.

Carlos Ponce

Interesting. The list of Republicans in Galveston County who voted yesterday takes 25 pages. The list of Democrats who voted yesterday takes 11 pages. That's a margin a little better than 2 to 1. Blue wave? No indication of that.

Jim Forsythe

Harris County, which is part of the BLUE WAVE.

More than 12,200 people voted at the 52 polling sites across the county, blowing past turnout from recent election cycles and narrowly outpacing the first day of the 2008 contest. The Harris County Clerk’s Office also received 24,461 mail ballots through Tuesday, compared with 10,312 on the first day of early voting in 2018 and 14,516 in 2016.

Carlos Ponce

That is not evidence of a "Blue Wave", Jim, only voter participation.Chances are that Harris Co will vote Democrat in 2020 just like 2018 but remember no Democrat won a statewide office in 2018 but did win local elections. So you have a few blue specks in a sea of red.

Carlos Ponce

Jim, Democrats did outvote Republicans in Harris County on Feb 18 in in-person voting.

Democrat ballots 6819

Republicans 5411

Democrats in the lead but not by the 2 to 1 margin Republicans over Democrats in Galveston County.

In returned mail-ins for Harris County, Republicans in the lead:

Democrats 11,571

Republicans 12,890

Total Early votes, mail- in plus in-person in Harris County, Democrats hold a slight lead 18,390 to18,301. No evidence of a "Blue Wave" though. Looks almost neck and neck so far.

Jim Forsythe

Carlos, your post of how many voted proves noting except how many choose to check Republican. Independents had to choose to either vote in the Democratic or Republican primary's.

Cruz clung on to his Senate job by just 2.6 percentage points. Some people on here said that Cruz would win by 10 points, but it was very close.

The Texas winners this year will be whoever carries the Independent vote. Will the ones that have moved to Texas vote Democratic, Republicans or Independent?

The change in the political landscape will become clearer after November.

Political independents are the largest portion of American voters — a 43% plurality, 2018. This has increased since 2018.

Carlos Ponce

In Galveston County those who chose to vote in the Republican primary so far outnumber those who chose to vote in the Democrat Primary by a measure of better than two to one. Considering the leading item on the ticket, president, is pretty much determined without contention in the Republican primary tells you something.

In Harris County it was split with Democrats having a slight edge. Not much of a "Blue Wave".

Jim Forsythe

Again, it proves nothing but more people are voting Republican, not that they are Republican. Independent's are voting , but who knows if they are checking that they are Democrat or Republican. Until the voting in November, it is going to remain unclear.

Carlos Ponce

Independents voting in the Republican is nothing?????? That must be a joke, Jim.

Jim Forsythe

The way it is set up, if a Independent wants to vote, they must choose between the two. This does not indicate of how they will vote in November.

Carlos Ponce

"This does not indicate of how they will vote in November." Unless you have data to back this up, this is just your opinion.

Jim Forsythe

Do you believe every Independent that voted under the Demarcate name this time, will vote Demarcate?

Do you believe every Independent that voted under the Republican name this time, will vote Republican?

Independents are called Independents for a reason, they are not attached to one party.

In the state of Texas, we have more Independent voters than Republicans.

Carlos Ponce

"Demarcate?" No such thing.

"Do you believe every Independent that voted under the Republican name this time, will vote Republican?" Most will.

In Texas there may be more Independents but that means they vote Republican in the November elections since we have ZERO Democrats and third party candidates elected in state wide elections. That's common sense, Jim.

Carlos Ponce

On Day 2 Those who voted in the Republican Primary added 26 more pages of voters. Total 51.

On Day 2 Those who voted in the Democrat Primary added 9 pages of names. Total 20.

Carlos Ponce

Day 3 UPDATE:

Galveston County voters voting in the Republican Primary has 73 pages of names.

Galveston County voters voting in the Democrat Primary has 29 pages of names.

Harris County:

Harris County Voters voting in the Democrat Primary 31, 524.

Harris County Voters voting in the Republican Primary 30,795.

Ted Gillis

Carlos, I thought this article was about election security. How did you make the leap to a Blue Wave?

Carlos Ponce

The first forum poster in this forum (Mike Zeller) always writes of a "Blue Wave". So far it's not there.

Jim Forsythe

Always?

Carlos Ponce

Hyperbole, Jim.

Carlos Ponce

Day 4 UPDATE:

104 pages of names of names who voted in the Galveston County Republican Primary.

41 pages of names of names who voted in the Galveston County Democrat Primary.

Harris County:

40,355 voted in the Democrat Primary.

41,306 voted in the Republican Primary.

Jim Forsythe

How many Independents voted?

Carlos Ponce

Does that matter? Chances are a few will vote for candidates from a party not belonging to the one they voted for in the primary but most will. There is no "Independent" ballot in the primary. So they choose the one they best identify with. There are no "Independents" in the Primary voting booth - just Democrats and Republicans. Choose one.

Carlos Ponce

Day 5 Update for Galveston County:

122 pages of names voting in the Republican Primary.

51 pages of names voting Democrat Primary.

Day 6 Update Galveston County:

129 pages of names voting in the Republican Primary.

56 pages of names voting Democrat Primary.

Harris County:

51,813 voting in Democrat Primary.

49,158 voting in Republican Primary.

Carlos Ponce

Day 6 UPDATE

Galveston County:

136 pages of names of Republican Primary Voters.

61 pages of names of Democrat Primary Voters.

Harris County:

60,990 Democrat Voters.

58,156 Republican Voters.

Carlos Ponce

Day 8 UPDATE

Galveston County:

185 pages of names of Republican Primary Voters.

79 pages of names of Democrat Primary Voters.

Harris County:

72,828 Democrat Voters.

66,961 Republican Voters.

Carlos Ponce

Day 9 UPDATE

Galveston County:

214 pages of names of Republican Primary Voters.

98 pages of names of Democrat Primary Voters.

Harris County:

85,718 Democrat Voters.

75,882 Republican Voters.

Carlos Ponce

Day 10 UPDATE

Galveston County:

251 pages of names of Republican Primary Voters.

124 pages of names of Democrat Primary Voters.

Harris County:

104,023 Democrat Voters.

87,213 Republican Voters.

Dalton Logan

Explains a lot about Houston and Harris County.

Carlos Ponce

Day 11 FINAL EARLY VOTING UPDATE

Galveston County:

317 pages of names of Republican Primary Voters.

176 pages of names of Democrat Primary Voters.

Harris County:

139,533 Democrat Voters.

104, 909 Republican Voters.

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