Some North Texas voters who used curbside voting to cast ballots in the November 3 election are wondering if their votes were actually counted after Dallas County election workers failed to follow proper ballot security procedures.

One of those voters, 86-year-old Anna from Rowlett, told Texas Scorecard a poll worker put her voted ballot with other papers in an open, unsecured box.

“I am extremely concerned that not just my ballot, but the ballots of all who voted that day were not correctly processed and counted,” she said.

Anna voted curbside at the Rowlett Community Center on October 18. She said one poll worker brought a machine to her car that dispensed a blank ballot, then another worker brought “a voting machine attached to a metal stand, with an open box for storing attached at the bottom of the stand.”

When she was done marking her ballot, she said the election worker “stuck it in among what appeared to be a group of other ballots. It was not secured in a sealed envelope.”

“I do not believe my vote was properly processed in accordance with the law,” Anna said.

Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch told Texas Scorecard Thursday he has sent the Elections Department multiple complaints and concerns regarding this issue, including one at Rowlett.

“Constituents have been contacting my staff and myself with complaints about major errors in how we are conducting this election here in Dallas County,” Koch said. “Some of the things that are going on are flat-out violations of election law.”

Texas Election Code says curbside voters “shall mark the ballot and give it to the election officer who shall deposit it in the ballot box.”

Dallas County’s poll worker training materials add that voted ballots are to be placed into a “secrecy envelope,” then two election workers “MUST” deposit the ballot into the DS200 ballot box/tabulator.

In Anna’s case, her ballot was not put into an envelope, and it’s not certain if her ballot was deposited into the ballot box or how long it remained unsecured.

Curbside voting is not new, but its use has escalated this election cycle due to concerns about the Chinese coronavirus.

Some local election officials have encouraged all voters to take advantage of the curbside option, even though by law it is reserved for voters who are physically unable to enter a polling place without assistance or likelihood of injury. 

The top election official in the state’s largest county took curbside voting even further with the invention of “drive-thru” voting.

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, a Texas Democrat Party official appointed in May as interim clerk, set up multiple “drive-thru” voting locations for the November election, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to “create” a “new method of voting” that is outside the scope of state law:

Harris County is the first jurisdiction in Texas history to create this new method of voting at scale that allows any registered voter to cast their ballot without leaving the comfort of their vehicle.

Following Hollins’ lead, Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole, another Democrat, set up drive-thru voting at the American Airlines Center polling place and expanded curbside operations at other locations. Other counties followed suit.

Two Republican lawsuits sought to stop Hollins’ and others’ attempts to sidestep the legislature and make up their own voting rules, but the Texas Supreme Court rejected their claims.

Hollins is set to be replaced by an appointed elections administrator. Pippins-Poole is retiring at the end of this month after a controversial nine-year tenure marred by mistakes, incompetence, and accusations of misconduct.

Koch said the curbside problems are just one issue plaguing Dallas elections.

“I don’t have much time to focus on those issues because we are desperately trying to get ballots to those who requested them more than a month ago and have not yet received them,” he said.

Dallas County Commissioners Court is holding a special meeting Friday to discuss election-related issues.

Anna said the entire process was “extremely unsettling,” but she just wants to make sure her vote, and the vote of every curbside voter, counts.

Friday, October 30, is the last day of early voting in the November 3 election.

Voters can report election-related issues to their county elections office, the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Division, and local or state party officials. They can also contact election integrity organization Direct Action Texas at 877-267-VOTE.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.