Last remaining votes officially added to Williamson County election totals

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Williamson County Commissioners on Nov. 20 officially canvassed voting totals from the Nov. 6 midterm election, including more than 100 votes recovered from a malfunctioning voting machine.

Those votes were the last remaining votes to be tallied by the county and were approved to be added to the election totals on Nov. 19 by 395th District Court Judge Ryan Larson, according to a Williamson County press release.

No outcomes to any races were changed by the added vote returns, according to Chris Davis, Williamson County election administrator.

The recovered votes come from a malfunctioning mobile voting machine that was one of three machines deployed at the Southwestern University campus in Georgetown on Oct. 22, the first day of early voting in Williamson County.

That particular voting machine will not be used in an election by the county again, Davis said.

Davis said election workers could not turn on the voting machine on Oct. 23 and subsequently sequestered the machine until Nov. 6, when the county could legally attempt to access the votes stored on the device.

A software team based out of Illinois was finally able to retrieve the votes from the machine several days later and securely sent the information to Williamson County election officials. Davis told commissioners that the Texas Secretary of State declared the votes could not immediately be included in election totals until Judge Larson finally declared the votes valid for counting on Nov. 19.

Commissioners on Nov. 20 discussed necessary steps to secure new voting machines after Williamson County experienced record high voter turnout. Davis told commissioners that the machines use technology that is two decades old.

“We’ve looked at replacing these machines over the last two years … because they are old,” Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis said. “We’ve been waiting for the tech to come along and be something better.”

As part of the 2018 budget, the Williamson County Commissioners Court approved $4.5 million toward new voting machines.

The new machines would require voters to insert a blank ballot into a machine, vote electronically, print the ballot and take it to a secondary machine that would count votes. Davis said this would allow for a paper backup in case there were to be a recount or machine error.

Williamson County election officials were counting votes a week after polls closed for the midterm election due to several contributing factors.

Overall, more than 200,000 ballots were cast in Williamson County during the midterm elections, in addition to 1,300 mail-in ballots. Williamson County experienced the highest voter turnout percentage across Texas at 62.09 percent.

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Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. He additionally worked with an investigative news organization where he reported on environmental topics and was a featured writer for Epicast Network, a Pittsburgh podcast company. Iain has now transitioned full-time into covering Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto.
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