In November’s general election in Hays County, 1,816 votes were not counted in the final tally. County Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson, who took over the job overseeing county elections after the November election following former administrator Joyce Cowan's retirement, attributed the uncounted ballots to a ballot storage device that went overlooked during the final count.

On Tuesday, Anderson gave a more detailed account of the issue to Commissioners Court.

The additional results would affect the outcome of one race, Anderson said. That race has been contested and overturned.

A mobile ballot box, or MBB, was taken offline during the November election because it had lost power, Anderson said. It was placed in a storage room and was not found until early 2017.

“The MBB that went down was at the end of its life,” Anderson said. “To make sure this doesn’t happen again is to make sure that we have the latest hardware and software. Even with all that, the voting machine was accurate. It kept data. It did not destroy data.”

New procedures are being implemented at the elections office, she said. Voting equipment will be logged each day, and the log will be kept in a locked cabinet in her office to ensure equipment is accounted for.

Before Anderson spoke, county residents voiced concerns about the uncounted ballots from the November election. Jon Leonard, former chairman of the Hays County Democrats, said, “I come here today as an unhappy voter. I do have a dog in this fight. I have every reason to believe my vote was not counted, which is particularly galling given my history in political affairs … given the number of times I’ve stood at this podium and said every vote counts. Unfortunately in this case, every vote did not count.”

After the issue was discovered, Anderson said she contacted the county elections commission and the office of the Texas Secretary of State.

Because the election results—without the 1,816 missing ballots—were already canvassed by Commissioners Court, those results stand as the official count of the election, according to state law.

An election to allow the issuance of bonds related to the Anthem Municipal Utility District, or MUD, was initially voted down with one ballot cast. There were only two eligible voters in that election, and after the election results were made public on Election Day, both voters announced they had voted in favor of the MUD’s bond issuance. An election contest ultimately overturned the results.

Anderson said she was unsure where the third vote came from. However, she said in elections at the city level and lower—including school districts and municipal utility districts—the county takes boundary lines, which guide who is eligible to vote in the election, from the city, school district or MUD. There is potential that the boundary lines could be submitted incorrectly by that entity, Anderson said, which would allow voters who live outside the boundary to vote in the election.

The third voter may have been issued the wrong ballot by one of the poll workers, too, Anderson said.

“The issuance of ballots at the polling place is a human process,” she said.

County resident Matt Ocker said he found Anderson’s explanation of the issue hard to believe.

“Do we have tampering with evidence?” Ocker asked. “Did someone scrub that ballot? These are the kinds of questions that need to be ferreted out here.”

Anderson said a citizens advisory committee will likely make recommendations about new technology upgrades for county voting equipment. The existing system the county uses is about 12 years old, she said, which is “the end of the lifetime for elections equipment.”

Anderson said after implementing new voting equipment—which could include a hybrid of electronic ballots with a hard copy paper backup—she will likely request the court approve a move to voting centers.

Voting centers allow residents to cast ballots at any county polling site on election day, similar to how early voting is conducted in the county.