Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The administration at the Dallas County Election Office was forced out last year when the county commissioner majority became democratic, a veteran election poll judge says former elections supervisor Bruce Sherbet should become a consultant to fix new problems.
A veteran Dallas County election poll judge urged county commissioners on Tuesday to hire a former election supervisor as a consultant to solve new problems that she claims threaten votes.
Lucia Rottenberg said glitches sprang up at her Irving polling place in the last four elections, including a damaged ballot counting machine that did not operate when the polling place opened.
"Voters are not happy when they put them in the little slot and they don't see their ballot being counted by the little machine," she said.
Rottenberg also reported a shortage of election-judge supplies and early-voting ballots delivered to her precinct as the regular election started, instead of in advance, as had been done before.
"The first 15 years, I did this with no problems," she said. "The last year, there are. It may be a bigger job than one person can fix."
Former Election Supervisor Bruce Sherbet was forced out of the job after 24 years in January 2011 when a new Democratic majority of the Commissioner's Court took office.
Commissioner Maurine Dickey, a Republican, said other election poll judges also brought issues to her attention, and she agreed with Rottenberg's call to hire Sherbet as a consultant.
"I know some of the commissioners laughed about that, but we absolutely should do that, and I'm going to push for that also," Dickey said.
The new election supervisor, Toni Pippins-Poole, said her office is well-prepared for the November election.
"We don't need additional people to run the election," she said. "What we do need is to make sure that supplies are given to the judges."
The election department has replaced open carts to carry and deliver precinct supplies with large metal containers on wheels.
Pippins-Poole said the large containers also include protected space to carry the ballot counting machines that used to be transported with only a quilted canvas cover.
"This way, we avoided that problem," she said. "We've put it into a container."
But Rottenberg also took issue with the new containers.
"These don't have enough stuff to replace a lot of what we have," she said. "I think that was a waste of money."
County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat, said the election department is in good hands with Pippins-Poole and that he is confident the November election will be trouble free in Dallas County.
"Absolutely, she's doing a great job," he said. "The technology there has been upgraded substantially."
Pippins-Poole said her department would be ready for November but that election preparations are on a tighter schedule this year because of court-ordered rescheduling of the primary election because of redistricting.
"We normally start in June but, as you know, we had elections in June and July," she said.
The Democratic majority that replaced Sherbet is still in place. One insider at the Commissioners Court said Sherbet would not want to return to work for Dallas County after the way he left.