Some voters find out they aren't registered

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - It is unclear how widespread the problem is, but by anecdotal evidence, hundreds of people in the Houston area who thought they were registered to vote, in fact, were not.

"The guy said I wasn't the only one with these problems. He said a lot of people who registered with DPS had the same issue," Ashley Luberger said.

Luberger said she was told she could not vote at an early voting location in Harris County because election officials could not find any record of her voter registration.

Luberger said she registered through the so-called "Motor Voter" method, which allows drivers license applicants to register to vote at the same time.

It appears that some of the registrations may not have been recorded properly.

A chain of several agencies handle the data after it is submitted, including the Department of Public Safety, the Secretary of State's Office and the county voter registrar.

It is unclear where the breakdown happened, if at all, but neither DPS, the Secretary of State's Office, nor the Harris County Voter Registrar's office has taken responsibility for the problem.

"DPS forwarded approximately 610,000 voter registration requests to the Secretary of State's Office in fiscal year 2012. There are no reported failures regarding data transfers with the Secretary of State's Office," Tom Vinger, with DPS told Local 2 Investigates via email.

But even some paid election officials acknowledge there is an issue.

"The common thread was with the driver's license sign up," said Vicki Burns, a Fort Bend County election official.

Burns said that more than 100 people had a similar problem at her early polling place. Burns said she thought the problem could present serious problems on Election Day because more polling places will be involved with much less time to hash out answers.

In Harris County, the voter registrar has set up a hot line on Election Day for any polling place issues voters may face. Anyone with problems should call 713-274-VOTE.

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