What a potential election recount would look like at Pflugerville ISD

Hand casting ballot stock image
The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees will vote to canvass results of the place 1 election on May 11. Candidates can then request a recount within 48 hours of canvassing. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees will vote to canvass results of the place 1 election on May 11. Candidates can then request a recount within 48 hours of canvassing. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Nearly a week after unofficial voting results came through on May 1, the contest for place 1 on the Pflugerville ISD board of trustees is still undecided.

In a race that tallied nearly 6,000 votes across two counties—two votes were cast in Williamson County—the vote tally is differentiated by just two ballots, for now.

Candidate David Aguirre leads over Marc Garcia by a count of 2,966 to 2,964 votes, as of the morning of May 7.

However, Garcia told Community Impact Newspaper that he was informed there are still mail-in ballots and provisional ballots that could be counted and added to the election total later on in the evening of May 7. With a race so tight, those final ballots could flip the race to Garcia’s favor.

If Aguirre retains his lead after May 7, though, Garcia did not comment on whether or not he would ask for a recount election in the race.


“I want to see how everything plays out. I want to make sure all the votes are counted,” Garcia said on May 6. “We’ll make that decision once we get those numbers tomorrow.”

According to information from the Texas Secretary of State Office, a candidate can legally call for a recount if the difference between the number of votes between the candidates is less than 10% of the number of votes received by the person elected.

In this race, that would mean 10% of the 2,966 votes received by Aguirre so far. That comes to 296 votes—far more than the gap recorded between Aguirre and Garcia.

If this election comes down to a recount, it would be the first in recent memory for PfISD.

“In the nine years I've been here, I don't believe we’ve ever had a recount,” said Tamra Spence, chief communications officer for PfISD.

THE RECOUNT PROCESS

Currently, Travis and Williamson county election officials are working to certify the official final tally of votes collected in all races held this election cycle.

Victoria Hinojosa with the Travis County Clerk’s Office told Community Impact Newspaper in an email that votes are currently being counted electronically.

Once the votes are collected, the county will send the official totals to the PfISD board of trustees to be canvassed.

“Canvassing is basically having your organization’s board acknowledge that the election was held—acknowledging for the record what the votes were and what the records were,” Spence said. “We don’t necessarily count anything. That is not what our part is.”

According to Spence, the PfISD board of trustees plans to canvass the election results at a May 11 board meeting.

If either Aguirre or Garcia wanted to request a recount of votes for the place 1 election, they would have to officially file their request by May 13, two days after the canvass, according to documents from the Texas Secretary of State. The counties would then conduct the recount, per Hinojosa. Candidates can request the recount be conducted by hand or electronic tabulation.

The cost of the recount would be initially paid by the candidate requesting the recount. According to the Texas Secretary of State website, the petitioning candidate would have to make a deposit to the county in order to pay for the recount process, covering costs for compensation of recount committee members, charges related to tabulating equipment, ballot printing costs and service charges related to office expenses.

The total cost of the deposit can vary depending on the number of precincts and whether paper ballots or electronic voting systems were used, according to the state. Candidates must put down $60 for each precinct that used paper ballots and $100 for each precinct that used an electronic system.

For Travis County alone, the cost of the deposit for a recount request in the place 1 race could cost at least $2,040.

If the outcome of the election is changed following the recount, the petitioner is returned the entire deposit, Hinojosa said. However, if the outcome of the election does not change, the cost of the recount comes from the deposit paid by the petitioning candidate.

If Aguirre or Garcia requests a recount following the PfISD board’s canvassing on May 11, it could be several weeks from now until a clear victor in the election is declared. Hinojosa told Community Impact Newspaper that the timeline for a recount depends on the method in which candidates request the county to go through each ballot.

“It will take several days to recount by hand,” Hinojosa said in an email.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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