Local and state officials are calling for a review of mistakes made by Dallas County’s top election official that resulted in the Democrat and her staff misplacing over 9,000 Super Tuesday ballots.
Next week, the Dallas County Commissioners Court will consider a proposal to create a Bi-Partisan Election Review Board and direct Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole to publicly disclose details about her office’s conduct of the March 3 primary elections.
If the commissioners approve, a panel of “state and local stakeholders” from both parties will be selected “to review the vote-counting process, to audit the final election count, and to confirm the final results” of the primaries.
County Commissioner J.J. Koch, the lone Republican on the court, proposed the election integrity measure.
Koch has questioned Pippins-Poole’s competence since before he took office in 2019 and continued to urge more oversight of her elections department while serving on the court. After discovering she lost track of thousands of primary ballots, he called for an immediate investigation and said the Democrat appointee should step down.
Koch’s proposal echoes a March 10 joint statement by Dallas-area State Reps. Rafael Anchia, a Democrat, and Morgan Meyer, a Republican, who first called for a bipartisan review of the March primary results.
“Faith in our government is only as strong as the integrity of our elections,” Anchia and Meyer said.
Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Rodney Anderson also wants transparency and accountability from Pippins-Poole’s office, which conducted the March primaries under contracts with the local Democrat and Republican parties.
“We want an independent investigation of how this happened,” Anderson said at a DCRP meeting Monday night. “And more importantly, how do we keep it from happening again?”
The unprecedented mistakes shook Dallas voters’ confidence in their elections.
Days after her office finished counting primary ballots, Pippins-Poole discovered thousands more voters had signed in to vote than the number of electronic ballots returned to her office. The missing ballots were linked to thumb drives from almost four dozen tabulating machines used at vote centers across the county.
Pippins-Poole was forced to ask a state judge to authorize a partial “recount” of previously uncounted ballots.
A March 11 count of paper ballot backups from 44 voting machines used on Super Tuesday found 9,149 ballots that were not included in the original vote tallies—6,818 Democrat and 2,331 Republican.
The missing ballots didn’t change the outcomes of any races, but voters were left wondering how the mistakes happened—and how the county intends to avoid similar mistakes in future elections.
To help the review board answer those questions, Koch’s proposal also calls for Pippins-Poole to provide specific documentation:
- Final audit log of primary results, with precinct-level data;
- Chain of custody of ballot boxes and 44 flash drives from Election Day until the end of the final count on March 11;
- Where the uncounted ballots from the results on the 44 flash drives were located; and
- Security on duty and dates and times provided, as required by Section 127.1232 of Texas Election Code.
In addition to a local review of the primary, Anderson said Monday the DCRP wants the Texas Secretary of State’s office to monitor the county’s election process in November.
“All we’re asking them to do is follow the law,” he said.
Anderson said public pressure is needed to hold the county’s elections department accountable, and Dallas residents who want answers about what happened inside their elections office on Super Tuesday should encourage commissioners to approve the bipartisan review panel.
Answers about what went wrong in the primaries are key to helping Dallas County avoid the same mistakes in November’s high-turnout presidential election.
Commissioners are scheduled to consider the election review proposal on March 24. Dallas residents can contact the county judge and commissioners with questions and comments.
County Judge Clay Jenkins: (214) 653-7949; Clay.Jenkins@dallascounty.org
District 1 Commissioner Dr. Theresa Daniel: (214) 653-6668; Theresa.Daniel@dallascounty.org
District 2 Commissioner J.J. Koch: (214) 653-6100; JJ.Koch@dallascounty.org
District 3 Commissioner John Wiley Price: (214) 653-6671; email@example.com
District 4 Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia: (214) 653-6670; Elba.GarciaDDS@dallascounty.org