Dallas County elections officials tell NBC 5 Investigates they have identified a voting system error after at least two voters showed up to cast ballots but were told that someone else had already voted in their name.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins confirmed the system error caused between two and four cases where someone actually voted in another person’s name. But Jenkins said the error, which stemmed from the county’s electronic pollbooks, had the potential to affect between 72 and 100 voters. Still a tiny fraction of Dallas County’s more than 1.3 million registered voters.
County officials say they have moved swiftly to address the problem and to make sure it is not more widespread.
One of the first signs of trouble came from a voting location in Desoto where Rashad Sypho went to vote but was told he could not, because records showed he already voted days earlier.
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“[The poll worker] stated, I had voted October 13, about 1:30 p.m. And I said, well, how is that possible if I have been in a hospital for the last two weeks?” said Sypho.
Sypho said he asked to see the screen on the electronic voter check-in system.
“And sure enough, it said that whoever portrayed to be me had voted at the Harry Stone Recreational Center in Dallas county,” said Sypho.
That's about 20 miles from DeSoto in east Dallas.
Sypho wasn't the only one.
The leaders of the Dallas Republican and Democratic parties were also alerted to a second case in addition to Sypho’s.
ONLINE: Your Voter Guide for the 2020 November General Election is here, with information on Federal, State and Local Races
Both party chairs joined forces and quickly contact Dallas County's Elections Department with questions.
“How did it happen? How many are there? That's another question. And how do you keep it from happening again?” said Dallas County Republican Party chair, Rodney Anderson.
“Together we requested that the election department get the manufacturer to come in and investigate”, said Democratic Party Chair Carol Donovan.
County elections officials and County Judge Clay Jenkins reached out to the contractor that helps operate the electronic pollbook system.
Jenkins said the contractor, Electronic Systems and Software, or ES&S, discovered problems with 30 electronic pollbooks which had the potential to affect at least 72 voters or possibly as many as 100.
On Friday, Jenkins told NBC 5 that the cause of the problem was still under investigation.
“It's not clear. There could be some human error components to it. It could be some software glitch components. But again, it is a very isolated problem,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins said it appears no more than four voters actually cast a ballot in someone else’s name.
Late Friday the polling book contractor ES&S told NBC 5 Investigates it was not a software glitch but was "an isolated issue stemming from incorrect voter data the county provided to ES&S on October 9 to perform an incremental update on the county's pollbooks."
ES&S said 30 pollbooks were then sent to polling places without the latest data updates.
The company said the problem should be fixed by Friday night.
“They will get it fixed today. It's a relatively small number of people, but even one person having that experience is too many. It's very frustrating that it happened,” said Jenkins.
Frustrating also to party leaders -- who pledge to keep watching the system.
“We don't want to lose even one vote due to any error, whether it be human or caused by electronics,” said, Democratic Party chair, Donovan.
“Do I think that we will have at the end of the day, the process will work to where everybody that votes their ballots are counted, they're counted properly,” said Anderson, the Republican chair.
Early Voting Wait Times
- Dallas County voting location wait times (green <15 minutes; yellow 15-30; red >30)
- Collin County voting location wait times (green <20 minutes; yellow 20-40; red >40)
- Tarrant County voting location wait times (green <29 minutes; yellow 30-44 minutes; orange 45-59 minutes; red >60 minutes; blue means no data available.)
- Denton County does not report wait times.
Voting locations are open at different times on different days. Click here to see a schedule by county. Anyone standing in line at when the polling location closes will be allowed to vote.
The two party chairs even conducted a joint interview via Zoom with NBC 5 Investigates showing that despite political differences, they are united in helping ensure the voting process is fair.
Rashad Sypho was eventually allowed to vote with a provisional ballot which elections officials told him they will accept once they can match the signature on his ballot to his voter registration.
And Dallas County officials said the person who unknowingly voted in Sypho’s place will have their vote count too when the records are corrected.
“Unless it happens to you, never think this is going to happen to you,” said Sypho.
Jenkins said the 30 electronic pollbooks linked to the trouble will be completely replaced. He said those pollbooks also appear to have caused some small discrepancies in daily counts the county receives of the number of people who have voted. The county said it has been assured that the numbers can be reconciled and new equipment should stop the problem going forward.