Refugio County reverts to paper ballots after voting machines programmed wrong

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Nov. 6, 2013 at 5:06 a.m.

Voting machines that were programmed incorrectly led to a slow election night in Refugio County on Tuesday.

The special election calling for the creation of the Refugio County Assistance District No. 1 was only intended for voters in the unincorporated communities in the rural parts of the county.

The district would impose a sales and use tax at the rate of 2 percent for those in the unincorporated cities of the county.

However, the machines were set up to allow all registered voters to cast their ballots on this proposition, said Election Administrator Rachael Garcia. They were unable to reprogram the machines.

Garcia talked to the Texas Secretary of the State office about the problem. They resorted to using paper ballots and hand-counted the rest of the votes, she said.

"We had to go old school," Garcia said. "It had been a very long time."

The special election lost with 72 voting for and 170 voting against. One worry was that the 36 votes cast in early voting may have skewed the final numbers, Garcia said.

Even if all 36 votes had been cast by those living in the city limits, the proposition would still have failed, she said.

Garcia is working with the Secretary of the State Office to ensure a final vote count.

Refugio County Judge Rene Mascorro said the election would likely not be challenged. Instead, Mascorro would like to put the issue on a later ballot after further educating the community about the proposition.



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