Dallas County will recount ballots from Super Tuesday voters in the 2020 primary after discovering 44 thumb drives with discrepancies.
State District Judge Emily Tobolowsky approved the request Tuesday to manually recount thousands of paper ballots.
The recount is set to begin Wednesday morning and may last several hours.
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In court Tuesday, Dallas County Election Supervisor Toni Pippins Poole said the ballot results from 44 ballot tabulating machines recorded on the thumb drives either did not match the number of voters that entered polling places or were not submitted before counting was finished.
Under Texas Law, a court order is required to recount paper ballots that correspond with those voters.
"This is a safeguard that we put in place," Pippins-Poole said. "We want to make sure that the number of voters that walked in are the actual number of ballots that are cast."
The errors affected about 7,000 ballots in Dallas County, which had more than 317,000 voters on Super Tuesday. The majority of votes were cast in the Democratic Party primary. Vice President Joe Biden carried the county at the top of the ticket by more than 93,000 votes over Bernie Sanders.
Republican and Democratic Party officials said it is unlikely the recount will change any election results.
A list of locations from which the 44 thumb drives came was released in court for the first time Tuesday.
The locations included voting centers in Dallas, Irving, Mesquite and Grand Prairie.
Some of the missing ballots came from Democratic (D) primaries while others came from Republican (R). We've notated the party in the list below.
Multiple Careers Magnet Center – Dallas (D), Richland College Lecroy Center – Dallas (R), George Truett Elementary School – Dallas (D), S.S. Conner Elementary School –Dallas (R), Urban Park Elementary School – Dallas (D), Skyline Branch Library – Dallas (R), San Jacinto Elementary School – Dallas (D), Edward Titche Elementary School – Dallas (D), Edward Titche Elementary School – Dallas (R), Sure Foundation Baptist Church -- Dallas (D), Forester Field House – Dallas (R), Vernon Price Elementary School – Garland (D), Vernon Price Elementary School – Garland (R), O’Banion Middle School – Garland (D), Harry C. Withers Elementary School – Dallas (D), Benjamin Franklin Middle School – Dallas (D), Dan D. Rogers Elementary School – Dallas (R), Northlake Elementary School – Garland (R), Lyles Middle School – Garland (R), Dorsey Elementary School – Rowlett (D), Oaklawn United Methodist Church – Dallas (R), Oaklawn United Methodist Church – Dallas (D), CFNI Student Center – Dallas (R), Adelle Turner Elementary School – Dallas (D), Bomla @ A Maceo Smith – Dallas (D), Friendship West Baptist Church – Dallas (R), Park in the Woods Rec Center – Dallas (D), Poteet High School – Mesquite (D), Poteet High School – Mesquite (R), J R Thompson Elementary School – Mesquite (D), J R Thompson Elementary School – Mesquite (R), Mountain Creek Library – Dallas (D), Leslie Stemmons Elementary School – Dallas (R), Lelia P Cowart Elementary School – Dallas (R), Anson Jones Elementary School – Dallas (R), George Peabody Elementary School – Dallas (D), Sunset High School – Dallas (R), Cockrell Hill City Hall – Dallas (D), Betty Warmack Library – Grand Prairie (R), Travis World Language Academy – Grand Prairie (D), Travis World Language Academy – Grand Prairie (R), Hector P Garcia Elementary School – Grand Prairie (D), David Crockett Middle School - Irving (R), W T Hanes Elementary School – Irving (R)
"I’ve been hearing from social media that it’s just minority areas, and that’s not the case. It’s all over," Pippins-Poole said.
Her court petition and affidavit for a recount were filed late Friday.
The election supervisor said new equipment for the county's new voting centers program was used in several smaller elections in 2019 and 2020 without problems. Much larger turn out on Super Tuesday was the first big test for the program.
Voting Centers allow people to cast ballots at any polling location, not just in their home precinct.
The Democratic and Republican Parties conduct primary elections and are supposed to staff polling places with election judges from the respective parties. The parties had trouble finding enough people to staff the large number of polling places in the new voting center program. Temporary workers with little training were brought in at the last minute to help.
Many primary polling places had only a Democratic election judge to conduct the voting for both parties. In some of those locations, there was confusion about whether to use just one ballot tabulating machine for both parties or to use two machines.
Representing the Dallas County Republican Party at Tuesday's hearing, Attorney Lew Sessions was denied a request for a three day delay so an investigation could be conducted on exactly what went wrong.
"We haven’t had enough time to learn what instructions were given, how they were given, to whom they were given, and we don’t even have the names of these particular judges to go ask them," Sessions said.
The Dallas County Commissioners Court that oversees the election department has four Democrats and one Republican. Lone Republican Commissioner J.J. Koch has said Pippins-Poole should be replaced.
Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Rodney Anderson declined to join Koch's request but said he wants a review of the election procedures.
"I would love for the Dallas County Commissioners Court, based on this to have an outside auditor come in, and evaluate the process because I think the process is obviously not working properly.," Anderson said.
Pippins-Poole said the November election will be much different because it will be run with officials hired and trained by Dallas County and not the parties.
"You will only have one machine there, so there’s no two machines. You will have both Democrat and Republicans representatives there. And the voter will only see one set of judges and clerks," Pippins-Poole said.
The election administrator said she supports making primary elections a joint election as well but party leaders have been divided about the change.