When data from a county in North Texas showed far more people voted this Election Day in a precinct than were registered, an investigation revealed that the data was entered incorrectly on the website. It also revealed that the county’s elections department was being flooded with voter registrations that arrived after the county’s election office due date; but since the Secretary of State’s office received the registrations on time, they were to be regarded as valid.

Last week, while reviewing Tarrant County’s turnout results for the presidential election, Texas Scorecard found that Precinct 2220 showed an 817 percent turnout—with 2,059 having voted in a precinct with only 252 registered voters.

On November 10, we contacted Tarrant Elections Administrator Heider Garcia to ask about this anomaly.

“I had my staff look at it, and it’s basically a data movement error,” he said. “The vote count is not going to change. The registrations were inputted wrong into that website.”

Tarrant now reports a voter turnout of over 78 percent, with 2,063 having voted out of 2,631 registered voters.

When asked, Garcia said Precinct 2220 wasn’t the only one with this anomaly.

“I know that yesterday when we looked at it, there were a few. But, again, it was more of a set-up of the site,” he said. “Some of these website products, they’re generic to be able to be used. Those vendors sell them all over the country. You have to go in and set up all these rules of how you’re grouping things.”

“We could have done a better job proofing it.”

Garcia also said the county received a large amount of voter registrations this year.

“It’s a nightmare because [we would] set it up and then people kept registering,” Garcia continued. “We were getting boxes and boxes of registrations.”

Garcia added that even after the registration deadline, the county was still receiving registrations from the Secretary of State that had arrived there by the due date.

He explained that if someone sends in a voter registration card to the state on time, it is still valid even if the specific county’s election department has not received it yet.

“So, the state boxes all of those and then sends them to us. We were getting boxes of registrations the week after the deadline … saying, ‘All these were in on time. Add them.’”

We asked Garcia if this was unusual. “To get a lot? No. To get these many? Yes. Everything was unusual in this presidential [election],” he said. “Everything was bigger.”

Texas Scorecard also asked Garcia if his office knew how many registrations were received from the Secretary of State after the due date. Garcia checked with his staff but found they did not have a separate count for those registrations.

Did this massive influx contribute to the error?

“The answer to your question is yes, because a moving target is harder to shoot. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that—and that is what I was telling my people, too—we shouldn’t have posted something with 800 percent registration, right?”

“And even if we had missed it, we should have noticed it as soon as we posted it. One of our checklists from now on will be to go over it again.”

Garcia then explained to Texas Scorecard the policies and procedures he has put into place to prevent such errors in the future.

“The first one is to do an inspection of the results as soon as they’re ready,” he said. “Go through them and say, ‘Is there anything over 100 percent? Why?’ That’s going to be a standard now.”

“The other one is to look at those rules and figure out what rules that we think, what settings that we make, and that is our checklist,” he said.

If anyone spots anomalies in Tarrant County’s reporting, Garcia encourages citizens to inform him.

“Call our office,” Garcia said. “I’m not one to shy away from saying, ‘This is an error.’”

Citizens in other Texas counties who spot similar errors are encouraged to contact their county’s election department.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.