AUSTIN — Following an election where their party’s poll watchers claim to have been prohibited from performing their duties, the Travis County Republican Party has reached a settlement with County Clerk Dana DeBouvier.
At issue was the use of a so-called “media room” in the recently concluded general election. The room was where poll watchers were allowed to observe the election process, yet it was separated from the actual ballot counting room.
The county’s ballot counters said sequestering the poll watchers in a room separate from the ballot counting was a necessary COVID precaution and that the poll watchers still had a full view of ballot counting activities. However, according to poll watchers, being physically separated from the ballot counting made it impossible to verify the veracity of the election results.
Though this treatment of poll watchers undermines public confidence, no credible sources have thus far accused Travis County of election fraud in the 2020 general election. Social media rumors to the contrary so far seem unfounded, and the surprisingly strong election performance of conservative candidates for the all-Democrat Austin City Council suggests otherwise.
Regardless, according to the recent out-of-court settlement between the county and party, poll watchers will now be permitted in the same room as ballot counters.
The agreement goes into effect starting with the important upcoming December runoffs for Austin City Council Districts 6 and 10.
This latest incident isn’t the first time the Travis County clerk has come under fire. In 2015, former Austin City Council candidate Laura Pressley sued, alleging irregularities during her December runoff election. Last year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Pressley’s allegations were credible, but at that point, the term of the office Pressley originally sought had expired.
Election Day for runoffs is December 15.
If necessary, poll watchers and/or whistleblowers are encouraged to contact Texas Scorecard in real time at [email protected].