Harris County Clerk: Electronic Polling System Works, Saving Money

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart is defending his electronic voter check-in system amid allegations that it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The county has spent close to $3 million developing what Stanart calls an electronic polling system -- including $1 million on iPads purchased several years ago.

“We used them at 99 polling locations last November, three at each one, and we're using them in this March primary,” says Stanart.  “They're working great and we're excited about having it.”

Stanart says the in-house system reduces wait times and the polls and will save millions on licensing fees. 

“It's real simple to use, if you have a DPS ID, we can't match it in the voter roll in under a second, it is that fast,” he says.  “It also gives us lots of technology if we ever wanted to go vote centers.”

“Overall costs over five years, because we developed it ourselves we don't have to pay licensing year-after-year-after-year.”

But some question Stanart's motive.

“If he were to use that for licensing for private gain, that would be a concern,” says Adrian Shelley at the government watchdog group Public Citizen.  “But my understanding is the county would have oversight of any future licensing agreement.”

Shelley hopes the county would then choose to retain the license.

“There have been investigations into how the funding was spent and to what sort of benefits it will provide in the future,” he says.  “It may turn out in the end it was a cost-effective project for Harris County, and I hope that is the case.”

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