Early voting begins; officials overcome initial snafu at Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse in Port Arthur

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, October 13, 2020

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Voters of the Jefferson County general and special elections at the Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse in Port Arthur had to wait a little longer before they could cast their ballots Tuesday morning.

In a statement at 10:21 a.m. Tuesday, Port Arthur City Secretary Sherri Bellard said the voting machines for the county elections had technical issues and were not open for voting when the Sub-Courthouse opened at 8 a.m.

Voters for the Port Arthur city and special elections were being processed.

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Carolyn Guidry, County Clerk, said the county machines at the sub-courthouse were the only ones with issues but that the problem was resolved and voting resumed.

Guidry said the “brain” of the machine that connects with other machines was defective and had to be reprogramed.

No voters had been checked-in on those machines at that time because, without the brain of the system, it won’t work. Once it was replaced and reprogrammed, everything went fine.

The equipment is not new, she said, and all required testing was performed before the machines arrived.

“It is something we are required to perform,” Guidry said.

But for some reason, once it was deployed out into the field, it failed to work.

Citizens of Port Arthur who are voting must fill out separate city and county ballots because county officials say outdated and incorrect information regarding voters’ addresses in each precinct and city council district of Port Arthur were submitted in an attempt to include the city’s elections on the county ballot.

Voting machines and ballots for the city will only be available in 10 of Port Arthur’s 40 precincts during Election Day (Nov. 3).

Elections for other municipalities are included in the county ballot, as well as school district, state, congressional and presidential races.

Bellard said voters would be allowed into the Sub-Courthouse to vote for the city elections whether or not the Jefferson County voting machines are operational.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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