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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Tarrant County having trouble counting mail-in ballots

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A manual count could prolong final tabulations beyond Tuesday night and could delay decisions in tight local elections …

A problem with mail-in has risen with an estimated 17,000 to 18,000 ballots where the barcode can not be read. It has nothing to do with how the ballot was filled out nor or the validity of the ballot or even the person who cast the vote. It is a printing issue with the barcode that has made it unscannable.

When a ballot’s bar code cannot be read by the mail-in ballot sorting machinery, those ballots have to be manually recreated by election workers. These workers work in pairs that represent different political parties.

The issue was discovered last week and announced by Tarrant County Election Administrator Heider Garcia. Yesterday, during an emergency meeting, the Tarrant County Election Board approved a list of additional election workers that would be needed to process the ballots.

The Board approved fifty-six people to balance the pairs of ballot-counters. In so doing, the board approved 32 more Democrats and 24 more Republicans. Altogether, it will bring the total number of ballot counters to 136 people.

It should be noted that some of the additional counters were replacements for individuals who had been approved earlier but decided that it would not be safe due to Covid-19 concerns to be in close quarters with so many others while counting was conducted.

Does it affect other ballots?

  • The problem with the barcode does not include all of the mail-in ballots or approximately an estimated a third of those mailed.
  • It also does not include any of the ballots cast in person during early voting.
  • Nor, will it include any of the ballot cast in person on election day.

When will the counting of these problem ballots begin?

According to Garcia, counting will begin as soon as the polls close on Tuesday evening but the elections office actually has two weeks after election night to “redo” ballots according to state law. Garcia has said they should be done well before then.

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