As many as 9300 voters from five voting precincts face confusion and the risk of getting the wrong ballot at the polls during the primary runoff election thanks to a data glitch in the county’s election polling books.
The county’s election division chief said voter data from the county tax assessor’s office was incomplete while the tax assessor said the elections office never asked for the data in the first place.
The voters affected live within precincts that straddle the boundary lines for the District 23 and District 24 state representative seats. Thanks to redistricting the redrawn lines for those districts split five precincts. So when voters arrive at the polling locations election judges will be unable to confirm which ballot the voters get without first making a call to the elections division.
The voting precincts impacted are 201 225 227 232 232.03 and 329. The registered voters in those precincts should pay extra attention that they receive the proper ballot when casting a vote in the primary runoff election. Both state representative seats are in runoffs for the Republican Party.
With more than 9300 voters in those precincts it is unlikely that many voters will be affected since this is a primary runoff election with a lower expected turnout.
In District 23 Wayne Fairlcoth faces Bill Wallace. In District 24 Dr. Gregg Bonnen faces Ryan Sitton.
Early voting for the runoffs began Monday. The runoff election day is July 31.
In Galveston County County Tax Assessor Cheryl Johnson is the voter registrar and her office is responsible for making sure voters are put within their proper voting precincts.
Bill Sargent the county clerk’s chief deputy clerk for elections said his office requested from Johnson’s office “all the information we needed to conduct this election. That included the splits of these precincts.”
Johnson said the elections division request wasn’t that specific and insisted had the split precinct information been requested it would have been provided. She said too it is possible that the data was sent but maybe not in the format that would list the proper state representative district for voters in those precincts.
“If something was incomplete on the list (the elections division) never told us” Johnson said. “We only give them what they ask for.”
She said she was aware the problem came up during the primary election.
Because the issue couldn’t be resolved in time for the runoff election judges have been instructed when any voter from the five affected precincts arrives at the polling location election workers are supposed to call the elections office and confirm which ballot they are to receive to vote.
Sargent said “a couple” of voters had been given the wrong ballots because of the confusion.
Johnson was frustrated because she was unaware the situation was an issue until called by The Daily News.
“It’s kind of hard to do the perfect job if there’s no communication” Johnson said.
She went on to say since the primary election ended there has been little communication between her office and the county clerk’s office.
Those two offices are responsible for the conduct of the county’s elections.
Sargent countered that noting he had sent emails to Johnson’s office seeking the proper information.
Early Voting Poling Places
WHEN: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Friday
WHERE: You can vote at any of the 12 early voting centers no matter where you live.
Galveston Justice Center (2nd floor conference room) 600 59th St. in Galveston
Joe Faggard Community Center 1700 state Highway 87 in Crystal Beach
Galveston County Courthouse (2nd Floor) 722 Moody in Galveston
Bayou Vista Community Center 783 C Marlin St. in Bayou Vista
Nessler Center (Surf Room) 2010 5th Ave. N. in Texas City
West County Building 11730 state Highway 6 in Santa Fe
Dickinson Community Center 2714 state Highway 3 in Dickinson
La Marque City Hall (Community Room) 1108 B Bayou Road in La Marque
Bacliff Community Center 4503 11th St. in Bacliff
Calder RoadNorth County Annex 174 Calder Road in League City
Kemah Civic Center 800 Harris at state Highway 146 in Kemah
Friendswood City Hall 910 S. Friendswood Drive in Friendswood