Election Systems & Software (ES&S) has released a report on its findings related to errors in the Hill County Republican Primary. The report comes amidst an ongoing investigation by Attorney General Ken Paxton into irregularities with the vote totals reported in the election.
Last month, Direct Action Texas discovered that the number of reported votes in the Hill County Republican Primary exceeded by more than 1700 the number of voters the county reported had shown up at the polls.
ES&S, which supplies electronic voting machines and other election services to Hill County, was asked by the county to investigate the error. ES&S found that early voting ballot cast totals were incorrect by the same amount as the number of absentee ballots cast, and Election Day ballot cast totals were incorrect by the same number of paper ballots that were voted during early voting.
These errors occurred because a hard drive had not been properly cleared of all ballots before early voting and Election Day ballots were scanned into the machine and tabulated. This caused absentee numbers to be incorrectly added into early voting, and early voting numbers to be incorrectly added into election day totals. In other words, absentee ballots and some early voting ballots were double or triple counted.
Hill County Election Administrator Patsy Damschen has resigned in light of the revelations.
It is important that investigations in Hill County continue. Although it now appears clear how the error occurred, it is imperative that law enforcement fully investigates whether the error was intentional or was due to a systematic breakdown in protocol.
Election guidelines are designed to prevent this type of double-counting mistake from occurring. It is not yet clear whether all safeguards failed, or whether someone involved in the election made an intentional decision to double count the early votes.
At this point, nothing can be done to alter the election results in Hill County, though if voter fraud is identified, the culprits can be prosecuted.
However, Texans should demand an accurate report of the election results in Hill County. If the results of any election are reversed, the certified nominee ought to have the decency to withdraw from the general election ballot.