County election administrators across North Texas prepared for the possibility of a record-breaking voter turn-out for midterm election day.
In Collin County, all signs surrounding this year’s midterm election point to a record breaking turn-out.
“No one could believe the numbers. Everything was sky high based on past midterm elections,” said Bruce Sherbet, the Collin County Elections Administrator. Sherbet has been working in county elections for 30 years.
“I have never seen anything like this. It is truly historic," he said. "We staffed our locations with all of our voting equipment available. We made it look more like a presidential election set up because we thought it could be and it very well may be. So we'll have plenty of locations and plenty of supplies.”
In response to early reports of voter intimidation and harassment at polling locations in Mesquite and Richardson, more security will be provided.
“Deputies will be spread out across all 797 Dallas County precincts in case there is a disturbance,” said Toni Pippins-
New for the 2018 midterm election is a paper ballot voting system in Denton County. The paper ballots will be printed, on-demand for voters with their specific races and ballot measures identified, and the ballots will then be fed into a machine for the votes to be tallied.
The new system is a replacement for the electronic voting machines that caused big problems in the 2016 election, including several systems that were set to "Test mode on Election Day, and several thousand votes that were initially counted wrong, forcing a recount where the votes were counted wrong again.
During the two-week early voting process, there were some problems identified by voters in Tarrant County who attempted to vote a straight party ticket. In those few instances, when the voter went to review their ballot they discovered that some of the specific races — most prominently the United States Senate race between Republican Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke — had no selection indicated, or that their vote had been cast for the candidate in the opposite party.
According to both the Texas Secretary of State and the Tarrant County Elections Administrator, the instances they have identified were due to voter error.
The Secretary of State’s office issued an advisory about the problem.
"We have heard from a number of people voting on Hart eSlate machines that when they voted straight ticket, it appeared to them that the machine had changed one or more of their selections to a candidate from a different party. This can be caused by the voter taking keyboard actions before a page has fully appeared on the eSlate, thereby de-selecting the pre-filled selection of that party’s candidate…” said Keith Ingram, Director of Elections.
Heider Garcia, the Tarrant County Elections Administrator, emphasized that voters must be sure to review their ballots before finalizing their votes.
“I think that is the most important part. Go through the ballot, if you waited in line 20 minutes, 30 minutes, you might as well take an extra 30 seconds,” Garcia said. “Make sure that that summary page lists everything that you intend to vote for, and then hit the red cast button to make sure it is recorded.”
According to Garcia, one of the most common questions that came up during early voting were about identification, specifically what happens if someone is registered to vote in Texas but has out-of-state ID.
“That is allowed as a form of ID, provided that the voter fills out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration,” Garcia said. “It does not matter that the address on the DL does not match the address on the registration.”