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Misprinted ballots mean some votes must be hand-counted in one Central Texas county

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 10:07 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 10:24 AM CDT
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HAMILTON, Texas(KWTX) -- Some voters in Hamilton County said they received ballots that already had markings on them.

The markings were to redact a local school board race from some ballots.

Hamilton County Clerk Leanne Jackson said the county accidentally printed the Hamilton ISD school board race onto the ballot for Pct. 22.

Pct. 22 in Hamilton County is taxed for Jonesboro ISD, not Hamilton ISD.

It’s not clear what other precincts, if any are affected by the issue.

Jackson said when they realized the error, it was too late.

She said ordering new ballots would have delayed the start of early voting.

The county instead manually crossed out the race from the affected ballots.

However, the attempt at fixing the initial printing issue created more issues.

Because of the county’s extra markings on the ballot, the voting machines are unable to read the ballots.

Under chapter 65.009 of the Texas Election Code, the extra markings do not invalidate the vote.

In fact, Hamilton County election officials said the Early Voting Ballot Board will count the ballots by hand.

“It doesn’t [sit well with me],” said Shawn Paul, a voter in Hamilton County’s Pct. 22.

“I think if there was ever a time in voting history where the human element being involved is not a good thing then now is that time because there are so many loud voices and strong opinions in this political climate and I’m just not in a position to feel comfortable,” he said.

Local elections scheduled for May were postponed due to COVID-19.

County election offices were required to accommodate and facilitate those local races during the November General Election.

Jackson said the challenge of having to reprint ballots to reflect the changes resulted in the mistake.

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