April 11, 2006
Ballot screwup in Maverick County

Vince and BOR are the first to report this: The Democratic primary runoff ballot in Maverick County, where Eagle Pass is, did not contain Barbara Radnofsky's name on it. Instead, it had the names of the other two candidates, Gene Kelly and Darrell Reece Hunter. This was true throughout early voting, and was only reported and rectified today around noon when officials in Maverick County acted on some complaints about the ballot by calling the Secretary of State's office.

I've spoken to Seth with Radnofsky's campain, to a nice lady named Elizabeth in the SOS office, and to Dan with the Texas Democratic Party about this. Here's what I know:

- Once the error was confirmed, "emergency ballot procedures" were initiated. That means that the electronic voting machines, which had been configured with the incorrect names, were replaced by paper ballots in Maverick County. According to the Quorum Report, those paper ballots will be counted by hand.

- All votes for Gene Kelly in Maverick will count. Any votes for Darrell Reece Hunter will be disqualified. Whatever happens in Maverick is official, barring an election contest (more on that later). There is no legal option to omit any results from Maverick.

- It's unclear at this time whose fault this is. Elizabeth says that the county party is responsible for the contents of the ballot. She says that they said the correct names were sent to the electronic voting machine's manufacturer (I did not ask who that was). How it went wrong from there is an open question.

- Also an open question is why it took so long for anyone to notice and/or do something about it. The impression I got from Elizabeth is that there were some complaints in Maverick County, but the SOS office was not contacted by Maverick officials until today. That will have to be sorted out.

- The key question is what happens if Kelly wins by a margin smaller than his margin of victory in Maverick County. According to both Elizabeth and Dan, Radnofsky's recourse would be to file an election contest, which would be a lawsuit in district court (not sure where; my guess would be Austin, but I Am Not A Lawyer). Nobody was willing to go on the record as to what a judge might do with that, but one scenario that Elizabeth and I discussed that sounds sensible to me is that the judge could order a repeat of the election in Maverick County only. She was not aware of a case like this before where a similar ballot omission was alleged to have made a difference in an election.

- Elizabeth told me there was a similar problem in the GOP primary this March in the Court of Criminal Appeals primary, where Charles Holcomb was left off the ballot in at least one county. I think she said Burnet County, but I can't find a source for that. Since Holcomb made the runoff with Terry Keel, it was basically no harm, no foul.

That's what I've got. If you know more, or can fill in the blanks on the potential election contest, please leave a comment.

UPDATE: Vince has some more info.

UPDATE: Vince is now concerned that Maverick may not be an isolated incident. Any comments from non-Harris and Travis voters?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 11, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

I pointed out in 1988 that voters in Hidalgo County got to vote for Dukakis/Bentsen twice (two boxes for that ticket) but just once for Bush/Quayle.

After the press conference, Billy Leo (now my friend) called me a "little white-boy racist."

Posted by: jim on April 11, 2006 6:56 PM