WEATHERFORD — What some called “human error” led to questions and discussions about election procedures at a Parker County Board of Elections meeting Wednesday.
Several residents, commenting on the recent run-off primary elections held on May 24, expressed concern after ballots from seven polling centers were not initially compiled until the following morning.
Election Administrator Crickett Miller said each scanner contains what is known as the V: drive, which runs in the count station.
“This process is usually done three to four times on election night,” she said, noting that they usually wait until there is a lull. “When the last seven V: drivers were read into the count, the ‘tab’ button was never selected. Due to the omission of this step, the last seven V: drivers were never added to the count. total count.
“It was an oversight on the part of everyone who was there in our office – the poll watchers, judges and staff.”
On Friday, two Republican second-round candidates had filed for recounts in their races: House District 60 candidate Mike Olcott and Parker County District 4 candidate Eric Contreras.
Olcott received 752 votes less than incumbent Glenn Rogers in the district of Parker, Palo Pinto and Stephens counties, according to the Secretary of State’s website. In Parker County, Olcott got a 1,564 vote lead over Rogers, according to the county office of elections.
Olcott said Friday the difference he calculates to be the true margin was slim enough that he felt he owed it to his supporters to call for the recount.
“Voters in our community need to feel that their vote matters,” he said. “I think it will help bring peace, one way or another, knowing that their vote really matters.”
Because the race involved a state district, as opposed to a county office, Olcott filed his request for a recount with Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi. Olcott said he expected to hear the timing of the party’s response by Friday afternoon.
“I’m waiting to find out what the process is because I don’t know what it is myself,” he said, repeating a statement in his recount announcement. “I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but the big question I have is that they reported that all constituencies had (been counted).”
Contreras finished 10 votes – 0.2% – behind Mike Hale in his county race.
“It was an extremely close election,” Contreras said. “I believe every legal vote should be counted and we need to make sure people know that every legal vote is counted.
“Regardless of the outcome, I think we can all agree that the future of Parker County is very important and we will do everything to support our community.”
On Wednesday, Miller explained the vote counting process at the end of the night, which includes election judges coming from each polling station and bringing everything back to his office.
“There are two checkpoints: the first is that they drop off most of their equipment at our office, their supplies. At the second checkpoint, they enter our office with their scanner, their ballot box, their temporary bag, their envelope with their statement…
“I look at the tally tapes when they bring them to me, the judges at the central tally station get the scanner, then they go to look at it. They look for the serial numbers, then the tally tapes.”
A woman who identified herself as Dr. Laura Pressley, who said she reviews election integrity statewide and has been an expert witness in several cases involving allegations of voter fraud, said that the audit logs she had did not match at the time. .
Miller directed her to the logs, which can be found online at www.parkercountytx.com/482/Election-Results, and then began going through the list with her before County Judge Pat Deen and the commission did. break it due to time.
Pressley also claimed that the newspapers were requested on election night but not delivered until the following morning.
Speakers were given two minutes each to voice their concerns, which many participants found unsatisfactory. Several urged the commission to let them deliver their minutes to Pressley.
“I think she needs to submit a report to the commission so we have a chance to look at her concerns, point by point, because we haven’t seen them,” Parker County GOP Chairman Scott said. Utley, a commissioner with Democratic Chairman Kay Parr, said.
“If we are going to have a hearing of this nature, it must be announced in advance, like all public meetings, so that we can have an equal opportunity to discuss what you want to discuss, which was not on the agenda today,” Parr said.
As of Friday afternoon, the commission had not received a report from Pressley, Utley said.
County Attorney John Forrest said the purpose of Wednesday’s meeting was for Miller to report to the board and show his performance.
“They allowed the public to participate so they could get clarification,” he said. “Questions Dr. Pressley might have, those questions could be addressed later, but for today’s purposes, [the commission] cannot solve these problems.”
Several people in the audience, including many election judges, said there had been an increase in checks and balances over the past two years.
“I know each other and two judges go to the polls together, we seal the ballot box together, we compare the tally strips and the scan strips, it’s all done with more than one pair of eyes,” Jennifer Beauford said, who has been an election judge since 2018. “Last year we had a four-page checklist when we opened and closed, with probably 60 check marks that we all signed.”
Richard Heizer, one of the election judges at the central count, said the election department should be commended for how it cleaned up the election process.
“Everyone here probably knows that elections are like making sausages,” said Zan Prince of Police Station 315. “It may not always be the cleanest or most direct way, but every person is qualified each person votes and then you go through all the numbers what happened here is someone didn’t press a button and someone else didn’t didn’t notice the numbers weren’t tied until Tuesday night.
“The fact is that these numbers would have been captured by the elections office on Wednesday morning, were captured and we have no question as to whether someone voted illegally or whether that vote was counted or not. We have just a matter of someone committing human error.”
Others weren’t convinced.
“I think that pretty much sums up the problem that we can’t have any confidence in any of this,” said Samantha Diggs. “Our votes are the most sacred thing we have and this room, we are the bosses here. You all work for us.
“If even one vote doesn’t count, the system is down.”
Miller explained the process of the paper ballots, which serve as a backup to the votes, as well as the tests for logic and accuracy.
“We do a pre-L&A test, we do a public L&A test, and then we come back and do two more L&A tests during the election process,” she said. “All of these count and tab and we balance, making sure that what we voted on those ballots matches what we actually show.”
At the end of election night, the election judges put the ballots in the bag and seal that bag – each election judge has a new seal form – and once the bags are brought back, Miller’s office checks that the seal on which they wrote and the seal of the voting bag matches. They then all go to a room with 24/7 camera access.
Miller, guaranteeing the issue would not reoccur, said she had resolved the issue internally and would now carry out multiple checks during the election.
“We also submitted a request to Hart Intercivic, because there is no alert that goes off and says, ‘Hey, you haven’t compiled. So we asked them to look into that for us, as well as other counties, because it could happen there as well.”