Poll worker’s mistake prompts recount in Caldwell County elections

WEB_Martindale-electionsThe recount of Caldwell County’s Nov. 3 city elections was ordered by a judge after election officials testified that poll workers made a mistake that caused some votes to be counted twice.

But the mistake didn’t change the ultimate result in the Martindale mayoral race. Randy Bunker beat incumbent Doyle Mosier, 90 votes to 78 votes. Before the recount, the results had Bunker winning, 91 votes to 82 votes.

“It’s done. It’s over,” Bunker said, after sitting through the court hearing and the recount at the Caldwell County elections office. “We learned a lot.”

 

The mistake at the polls had caused 157 ballots to be counted twice. Elections administrator Pamela Ohlendorf initiated the recount.

“We noticed that there were more ballots cast than there were actual voters,” Ohlendorf told Caldwell County District Judge Bruce Boyer during the hearing. “My perception is that our site support personnel entered some information twice.”

According to Ohlendorf, Caldwell County’s site support is hired by its vendor, Election Systems and Software. The company contracts personnel to work on the elections.

But Ohlendorf said the employee who messed up the votes wasn’t from Texas, and she addressed this with Election Systems and Software.

“I need someone from Texas — who knows Texas laws and who knows the equipment,” she said. “You send that person to me so that there’s never an issue like this again.”

An Election Systems and Software spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment. Two representatives from the company attended the recount Thursday.

“The last thing I want is for people to have a bad taste in our mouth about elections,” said Ray Chandler, the county’s elections judge, who presided over the recount.

Chandler said he and Ohlendorf want to make it possible for voting machines from all polling locations to communicate immediately with the central voting location in Lockhart on Election Day.

Under the current system, the discrepancy in votes wasn’t discovered until two days after the election. Chandler and Ohlendorf said they will take the proposal to the Commissioner’s Court.

Martindale had a different election problem in May when a flawed ballot allowed those in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction to vote for mayor, while city residents were allowed to vote on ETJ issues.

That election was administered by Hays County because Martindale had paired up with the San Marcos school district to defray costs.

Bunker won the May election by five votes, but he was ousted in September when that election was voided because of the mistake. Mosier, who had been Martindale’s mayor since 2011, was reinstated.

Now Bunker is ready to be sworn in.

“This couldn’t have been helped,” he said. “Let’s move on.”

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