Can you believe it?
The Hidalgo County Commissioner's Court spent $5,400,000 (5.4 million dollars) to purchase 854 election machines that were in storage because of a handshake approval over 9 months ago.
The machines hadn't even obtained state certification and the purchase was contingent upon Hart securing this, which didn't occur until late December of 2016, less than a month before the machines were dropped on our doorstep in early January.
In light of elections systems being declared "critical infrastructure" by the United States Department of Homeland Security after the November 2016 election, legislation was introduced by the Texas Senate to make our voting systems more secure. The bills that have been introduced have a high probability of passage, and will make these machines outdated and will each require a $1,000 dollar upgrade for each unit.
So now add an additional $854,000 to the purchase price and that puts us at $6,200,000 (6.2 million) for a system that has no automatic paper trail.
This $6,200,000 (6.2 million) would equals to a 2cents reduction of our property taxes, or could have been leveraged for Indigent Healthcare and drawn down $15,500,000 (15.5 million dollars) to provide lifesaving treatment to our county's poorest residents. This is shameful.
According to an elections department spokesman for Mrs. Ramon, who didn't attend the meeting, the current machines would only last another month. According to the Elections Department, the purchase was necessary in order to prepare for the next elections.
We just had elections that brought out a record 176,100 (176 thousand) voters with reportedly very minimal problems.
This type of wasteful spending is as ridiculous as building a $150,000,000 (150 million dollar) Courthouse.
I guess it shouldn't surprise us. One thing for sure is that accountability is sadly missing in County government.
A potentially $6,400,000 (6.4 million) dollar purchase and the department head wasn't even present to defend it! This is unacceptable!
Eloy Pulido, February 7, 2017