Early Voting Underway, But How Safe is Your Vote?

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - The 2016 presidential election faced a controversial aftermath with accusations of voter fraud and Russian interference. Early voting for the primary midterm election is underway – but can Lubbock citizens trust their vote is safe? 

The most recent list of illegal voting cases from the Attorney General's office between 2005 and 2016 showed 93 prosecuted cases of voter fraud – not including any current or ongoing investigations.

In 2016, there were two cases of voter fraud in Lubbock. Both were deemed accidental, according to records from Lubbock County Elections Office. 

"We don't see a lot of cases of fraud here. One of them was the fault of one of the election workers. The father and son had same name, same address. They just chose the wrong one," said Dorothy Kennedy, Lubbock County Elections administrator.  

In the other case, "they just didn't understand all the rules on how to be registered," she said.

The county has a system of checks and balances to ensure "transparency and security" of the election, she said. 

During election day, no internet system is involved in the process of collecting and counting votes. Election officials are trained for up to eight hours on the federal and state-qualified equipment and on legal matters associated with the election, said Kennedy.

The equipment is also checked by a sheriff's deputy and sealed between locations, making sure it has not been tampered. 

At the state level, the Secretary of State's office implemented changes to increase security. This included updating the Voter Identification Act and drafting the Cybersecurity Act. 

"I think preventing voter fraud is important to the integrity of our election process, whether you are talking about voter fraud or outside interference with our elections-- like in this case of the Russian investigation and their recent indictments of actual individuals and organizations that interfered with our recent presidential elections," said Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-Texas). 

While Russia did not affect the outcome of Texas elections, Arrington says he is "not satisfied yet that Russia and other countries can't and won't interfere down the road." 

States have authority to oversee elections, and states need to share their best practices and tools to prevent voter fraud, added Arrington.

“There is no complacency in Texas when it comes to protecting the security of our elections system," Secretary of State Rolando B. Pablos, who oversees state elections, said. "We take our responsibility to guard against any and all threats to the integrity of elections extremely seriously and will continue to do so moving forward."

To investigate fraud, the Attorney General's office said it relies on complaints and referrals of allegations because there is no system in place under Texas law proactively detecting fraud.

"It must first be observed and reported to some authority by citizens or election workers, and unfortunately, only a fraction of election violations are ever reported," said Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

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