Generic Election

The Victoria County Election Commission wants to get Election Day results to the public faster.

During a meeting Monday, it settled on sharing with the public totals that election judges print from each voting machine after the polls close.

The commission suggested that for the Nov. 5 election, the county should hire someone to add up the totals on the printouts and write them on a whiteboard at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center so the results can be photographed and shared on social media.

Interim Election Administrator Margetta Hill said the totals depicted there would not be broken down by precinct, and there could be a small discrepancy between them and what is officially reported to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Currently, Victoria County has countywide voting, which means voters can go to any one of 36 polling centers on Election Day regardless of what precinct they live in. After the polls close, election judges print out the totals from each voting machine and take both to the election headquarters at the health center. There, a chip is removed from each voting machine and inserted, one at a time, into a computer that is not connected to the internet. A program on that computer generates a report that shows the votes broken down by precinct. Then, election staff takes that report to another computer that is connected to the internet and publicizes it on the county’s website, Jared Lucas, a deputy clerk at the Victoria County Elections Office, explained after the meeting.

“I honestly think it will take just as long trying to give you something that’s accurate on a piece of paper as it does doing it electronic. There’s a lot of numbers, and there could be an error using your human eye,” Lucas said.

At the meeting Monday, though, County Judge Ben Zeller and Commissioner Clint Ives expressed some frustration with how officeholders and the public did not get the final results for the May 4 election until after 10 p.m.

Ives said he was frustrated in particular by how the county’s website used a “snail-paced scroll” to show the results.

“There should be a tab where you can filter (to local races), and it wasn’t there,” he said.

Hill said that tab is there now.

She said a chip failing and an election judge not shutting down a voting machine properly caused the delay May 4.

She said the voting machines are also at the end of their lifespan. The county bought them in 2005.

County Clerk Heidi Easley said she thought the delay was caused partly by the county delaying appointing a successor to Vicki Vogel. Easley urged Zeller to schedule another election commission meeting as soon as possible to do so.

Hill was made the interim election administrator in February after Vogel resigned, and no one has been hired to fill her former role as assistant election administrator.

“If you were interim county Judge and getting two thirds of your salary, would you push just as hard or would you feel like, ‘Well, I need to know an answer, so I can know what my game plan is going to be?’ There’s other EA positions open throughout the state that Margetta could go to and probably get paid more,” Easley said.

The commission also discussed what to do now that the Victoria school district closed Guadalupe, William Wood and F.W. Gross elementary schools. They were polling centers.

Ives, whose precinct includes William Wood, said he would like it to continue being a polling center because many people use it and VISD Superintendent Quintin Shepherd was open to that.

“Dr. Shepherd said, ‘Instead of being in the campus, you might want to be in the gym because we’re going to have the campus at 80 degrees,’” Ives said of William Wood. “The gym has never been climat,e controlled, but it can be opened up, and there’s huge fans.”

The commission meets infrequently and is composed of Zeller, Easley, County Tax Assessor- Collector Rena Scherer, Victoria County Republican Party Chair Bill Pozzi and Victoria County Democratic Party Chair Pat Tally.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

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