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Unsecured voting machines found during campaign event in Shallowater

Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 8:58 PM CDT
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SHALLOWATER, Texas (KCBD) - Alderman David Brugel hosted a campaign event at the Shallowater Community Center last Friday, a place that is also used as an early voting location. During the event at the Center, also known as The Clubhouse, several voting machines lay behind an unsecured door.

County Commissioner Jason Corley, who was in attendance, made the discovery.

“[I] walked into the kitchen area, and on the way to the bathroom looked over and saw the voting machines. And said, ‘oh that’s a problem,’” Corley said.

He says there was only one door, out of several, that was unlocked and happened to have a push bar.

He notified the County Judge, the County Elections Office and the Sheriff’s Office.

“There’s always a concern when you put your machines out and you leave them locked in a room and somebody says ‘oh, something might of happened,’” Elections Administrator Dorothy Kennedy said.

Kennedy says it is regular protocol to deliver some elections materials the weekend before early voting begins.

Kennedy says nothing like this has happened in her 18 years on the job.

Though concerning, this is not actually considered a security breach according to Texas law.

“None of the equipment was actually touched. All the seals were still on there, everything was still intact as it was left earlier that day,” Kennedy said.

Section 129-051 of the Texas Election Code requires “an election information storage medium” to be kept by an election official or in a secure location, but it’s actually referring to something called a “controller,” not the actual voting machines. At the time of the event, that controller was under lock and key at the elections office.

“These [machines] are just boxes of metal that do nothing until the deputy comes in Monday morning and brings the controller unit,” Kennedy said. “Then, when that is connected, then these become voting machines.”

But the county elections office replaced the machines on Sunday evening, out of an abundance of caution.

“Our number one concern here in Lubbock County is to make sure that our voters know that their elections are safe, secure and transparent. It’s fair to candidates, it’s fair to voters,” Kennedy said. “They know that when they get their results on election night, that’s exactly what it is.”

Community activities scheduled during the early voting period were also canceled.

Kennedy says that will be the norm moving forward.

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