Super Tuesday

Judge to Hear Request for Recount of Dallas County Election Ballots

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A judge on Tuesday will hear Dallas County's request for a recount of last week's election after it discovered a discrepancy between the number of voters who signed in and the actual ballots cast.

The case has been assigned to 298th District Court Judge Emily Tobolowsky for a 10 a.m. hearing.

Dallas County elections officials are asking for a recount after they discovered ballots from 44 machines at an unknown number of vote centers may not have been counted on Super Tuesday.

Late Friday night, Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole filed a petition that said they learned of the votes that may not have been reported by the county March 3.

In Dallas County, there were 454 polling places open March 3.

The county recently switched to a system in which voters fill their ballots out on a screen. The information is then printed onto a paper ballot, so the county has records.

Dallas County elections officials are asking for a recount after they discovered ballots from 44 machines at an unknown number of vote centers may not have been counted on Super Tuesday.

Pippins-Poole is petitioning the state district court to allow Dallas County to recount the paper ballots.

The number of uncounted ballots was not known Saturday evening.

Pippins-Poole released the following statement Saturday.

On March 6, 2020, I filed a petition with the District Court, in my official capacity as Dallas County Elections Administrator, to re-open the Central Counting Station for a recount and re-tabulation of the Dallas County March 3, 2020 Democratic and Republican primary elections. During the reconciliation process after Election Day, it was determined that there were discrepancies with thumb drives from 44 of the precinct scanner and tabulator machines. Of the 44 thumb drives, 16 were not received in a timely manner to the Elections Department and 28 were from voting machines not scheduled to be used but were used by volunteer election officials. When Dallas County procured new election equipment, we ensured that paper ballot records were included with our electronic system. With this paper backup, and in consultation with the Texas Secretary of State, I have asked the District Court to allow Dallas County to authorize the recount of the paper ballots through the central counting station tabulator. If the Court grants this petition, the Dallas County Elections Department will post notice of the recount and make the results available to the public as quickly as possible.”

Saturday, Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch called the mishap a worst-case scenario for voters.

“They made time to vote. They did the right thing, and their votes were effectively thrown away because we didn’t get the job done," Koch said.

Though others, like fellow Commissioner Elba Garcia, have said Pippins-Poole is handling the situation appropriately, Koch believes she should have first come to the commission to allow for a thorough investigation.

“This ends now. Toni Pippins-Poole has to be removed from her position. We need someone competent," Koch said.

Garcia shared the following statement.

"I was informed this afternoon that our equipment vendor, ES&S, had missed counting the data sticks containing votes from 44 vote centers in various parts of the county. The Elections Department is addressing this issue by the only means allowed under the Texas Election Code, which is to file a request with the District Court to issue an order allowing the Elections Department to count the remaining votes. Once the order is issued, we should have a completed count shortly after. We will, of course, be working with the Elections Department and ES&S to get a full accounting of what happened and detailed steps that will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."

According to Commissioner John Wiley Price, the county must also assure the public their vote counted.

"They are entitled to an accurate count," Price said.

Dallas County Democratic Chair Carol Donovan shared the following statement.

"Our main concern is that the vote of every Dallas County voter, Democratic or Republican, is counted. Due to the small number of uncounted ballots, it is doubtful that the outcome of Tuesday’s vote will change. Nevertheless, the Dallas County Election Director is correctly requesting permission of the Court to open the ballot process so that all ballots can be counted."

Dallas County Republican Chair Rodney Anderson also released a statement.

“We anxiously await the explanation from the election department on how this could possibly happen. Until such time I won’t deal in supposition and what if.”

The affidavit and petition are below.

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