The Early-Voting Report

Election 2004

Early voting started Monday in Texas, and Travis Co. clerk Dana DeBeauvoir excitedly announced that she expected record turnout in this election. (As of Wednesday morning, more than 6% of Travis Co. voters had already cast their ballots.) She also sheepishly announced something that will likely send voting fraud activists into a tizzy: "We have had an empty ballot box stolen."

"Ballot box" is actually rather outdated terminology – the device is the electronic terminal into which votes at a particular polling place are stored in the county's electronic eSlate voting system. DeBeauvoir said the terminal was locked in the trunk of an election official's car on Sunday night, and overnight, the car was stolen. DeBeauvoir did not believe election fraud was a motive: "We believe that the kids who stole the car probably don't even have any idea it's back there [and] don't know what it is." (She later admitted that she didn't know if the thieves were actually juveniles.)

She also took the opportunity to pre-empt the inevitable outrage of critics of electronic voting by calling this a "no-risk" situation and saying, "Thank goodness this is not a paper ballot election, because having paper ballots stolen is far more of a vulnerability ..." Instead of having official ballots floating out in the public, possibly to be smuggled back into a polling place later, DeBeauvoir said she can simply invalidate the missing box within Travis County's system. If the box were to show up later with votes loaded into it, the county's system would refuse to accept them, she said.

Asked what might happen if the box had been stolen after votes had been cast, DeBeauvoir replied that that would be almost impossible – once votes have been cast, the boxes are handled by law enforcement officials only.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Election 2004
Letters at 3AM
Letters at 3AM
Dancing in the dark

Michael Ventura, Nov. 12, 2004

The Smoke Clears In Lege Races
The Smoke Clears In Lege Races
White contemplates recount as Strama's victory is secured

Amy Smith, Nov. 12, 2004

More by Lee Nichols
From the Music Desk
From the Music Desk
On Willie, Billy, Stevie Ray, Blaze, and more highlights from four decades of covering Austin music

Sept. 3, 2021

Game Changer
Game Changer
A new football culture for Austin bars

Oct. 23, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election 2004, Dana DeBeauvoir, eSlate, early voting

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle