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Denton County Election Overhaul Underway

Denton County’s new elections administrator is working to make sure all of the issues that came up during last November’s election are fixed and that the county doesn't have any more problem-plagued votes.

He wasn’t even working for the county last November when the problems at the polls began, but now Frank Phillips has taken it upon himself to get to the bottom of all of those issues and see they don’t happen in future elections.

Phillips is still adjusting to his position as Denton County’s Election Administrator, but said the transition is proving fairly easy as he was once a long-time employee before taking up a post two years ago in Tarrant County.

However, when he left the Denton office then, it wasn’t in the situation he finds it in now.

Last year, the county caught attention when several issues came up during the November election.

First, they faced computer issues and complaints of incorrect signage at early voting spots.

Then things only got rockier on Election Day when several ballot counting machines went to polls improperly set up and had to be replaced on the fly.

In the days that followed, the former administrator elected to step down and take early retirement, and county commissioners selected Phillips to take over the job to get to the bottom of those problems.

His days now are filled with a lot of long meetings with key players in the county, attempting to iron out the issues.

On Thursday and Friday, he met with officials from the local Republican and Democratic parties to discuss adding precincts to the county to better deal with massive growth in the area.

Phillips said he’s also hoping to hire more staff to address that growth and get the office working with more appropriate staffing numbers.

He’s also had staff checking every voting machine to replace those in need of upgrades, organizing the warehouses and operations and plans to add more training to their already heavy load.

"If you don't check yourself, have somebody else check you, have somebody else check them. You're going to run into trouble, and that's the bedrock of getting these things done right,” said Phillips.

County Judge Mary Horn said she’s pleased with Phillips’s work and the turnaround in the office so far.

The judge stressed that it doesn’t appear that voter fraud was a factor last November or that there were wide-spread technology issues; rather she said it was human errors that have to be addressed.

“We think we know what went wrong. Now we want to know we know what went wrong,” she said.

The county plans to continue meeting on the topic and keep working to see that future elections go forth without problems.

The office will face their first small test since November next month when they help Frisco with their special city election. Phillips said the May election will be the true test, though.

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