Secretary of State Falls for Bait and Switch?

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A week after the Secretary of State granted Dallas County permission to conduct countywide elections moving forward, Dallas County Commissioners announced they were going to up-end its established and tested election equipment.

Early this week, concerns about election security were cited in the media and used to abandon electronic poll book equipment used in November’s election. In its place Dallas County plans to substitute a competitor’s version, sparking speculation that the move was just another in a long line of vendor skirmishes in the election space.

There is no indication that the November election was misconducted or that the voting systems in place were compromised as suggested in the media.

During the commissioner’s court hearing, there was discussion about what necessitated the switch but there was no substantive discussion about a lack of security in the system. Instead, the need to swap systems was chalked up to changes in the election code.

The Secretary of State’s office has not returned a request for comment on how this will impact Dallas County in 2020. With an untested system in place, and known issues with Dallas County’s election administration, the SOS needs to be on

Countywide polling when it is conducted in an orderly manner and with paper ballot backups is not problematic. When election administrators and county leaders are unable to ensure trust in the administration of elections countywide polling is irresponsible.

There is an expense to the taxpayer in this debacle and blame falls in large part on Dallas County officials. However, there has been a historic abdication of responsibility on the issue of election administration from the state. Lawmakers in 2021 will be called on to aggressively address known issues.

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