County commissioner candidate to file lawsuit asking for new election after reported errors

County commissioner candidate to file lawsuit asking for new election after reported errors
County commissioner candidate to file lawsuit asking for new election after reported errors
Posted at 7:39 PM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 21:27:00-05

A Republican candidate for County Commissioner plans to file a lawsuit asking for another election for that seat after reported errors at one voting center in McLennan County.

Cory Priest was defeated by incumbent Precinct 1 Commissioner Kelly Snell by 29 votes on Tuesday’s elections. Priest will seek a recount of the election and plans to file a lawsuit to prompt another election.

"I decided you know I better get legal counsel not because- not only for me but for the voters because the voters can't file. If I don't file then we're not going to really know where we are. So that's the reason I decided to let legal guide me through the process." Priest said. 

At the First Assembly of God polling location in Waco, 600 out of the 1,886 voters received the wrong ballot. 397 out of the 600 ballots listed candidates for different precincts than they were supposed to vote in, affecting the county commissioner races in precinct one and three. The wrong precinct was entered for 203 voters but they received the right ballot because they didn't have a commissioner race listed.

McLennan County Elections Administrator Kathy Van Wolfe said for this primary, poll workers had to enter the voter’s precinct  number manually because of a glitch in the vendor’s software. However, instead of entering the precinct number, workers entered fhe ballot style, which for the 600 people voting republican six options were listed.

This is also the first primary in McLennan County since people can vote at any location in the county, not just at their home precinct.

"We know what our problem was. We know what our solution is so we can move forward but again we would like for the public to make sure if there's a question about anything while they're voting, please ask those workers,” said Kathy Van Wolfe. “If they don't help you, then call me and let us get you some help while you're getting help their voting so this doesn't happen again."

Van Wolfe said the system will be entirely electronic in the future. 

92 people who were supposed to vote for Commissioner for Precinct one didn’t because of the mistake. 10 of them who were not in precinct one voted for the commissioner in that area.  

News Channel 25 talked to Van Wolfe before we learned Priest planned to file a lawsuit.

At that time, she said she expected a recount of the race for Commissioner of Precinct one but the canvassing would be on the current election.

“This is the election that was held, and this is the election that will be canvassed and even though there were errors in that, we will still canvass this election and move forward with this election and if we go through a recount, this is the election that will be recounted,” said Van Wolfe.

The mistake also prevented 295 people at the First Assembly of God polling location from voting in the Commissioner for Precinct three.

Incumbent Will Jones defeated Benny Ray Matus by 821 votes.

Van Wolfe said a representative from their vendor checked that polling location but didn’t report any issues with the way poll workers entered the information.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, a voter who believed she received the wrong ballot contacted the McLennan County Elections Office with her concerns.

"I can't let you vote twice so if they had said something while the ballot was up and they were at the polling place, we could've corrected it and given them the correct ballot and given them the correct ballot and canceled the incorrect one. But once they voted that ballot and left, it was too late," said Van Wolfe. 

Van Wolfe said an election official went to the location and discovered there had been an error. Poll workers changed their procedures after that.

Van Wolfe said moving forward, they plan doing everything electronically and have everything automated.

“People make mistakes, it was human error. I’m sorry it happened. I apologize to the voters they didn’t get to vote for the people they came to vote for,” said Van Wolfe.

Wolfe said the problem was only reported at the First Assembly of God polling location, one out of the 32 voting centers in the county.

News Channel's 25 Kandace Thomas contributed to this story. 

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