Tarrant County elections leaders are releasing more information on the delayed release of election results during Tuesday’s primaries.
On Tuesday, many results of Tarrant County races were only showing early returns. Results for many races, such as the race for Tarrant County Judge, were not available until early Wednesday morning. On Wednesday, county elections provided administrator Heider Garcia more specifics into the technical issue they ran into with their systems Tuesday.
“In every [vote counting] machine, we have two drives that have the results. We use one of them to do an expedited…send us the results over the air…then we put them on the website,” Garcia said. “In the second drive, we usually collect them all that night. The next day, we put them in a separate computer. Read them one by one without any use of over-the-air or internet tools. We make sure that when we post it on election night, it matches that second official count that we do.”
The first drive had a hardware failure, Garcia said. So, they resorted to the second drive. The results trickled in slower, but he assured they are accurate and reliable. It is the same process they have followed for 10 years but typically, he said it is followed one day after election night.
“Last night, we always have our IT security officer on site. He was looking at it. We were already brainstorming ideas on how we do a replacement on the fly and the scenario of pulling one defective machine in this case and adding a second one and carrying on,” he said. “I think the main message, the process in place to deal with this scenario works as expected…and gave us a slower trickling in of results but an accurate one and a reliable one and one with integrity we can stand by.”
Frustration over delayed results were felt in Dallas County, as well. Dallas city mayor Eric Johnson said he also had to wait several hours for results in the races he was following.
“I feel like that’s becoming the norm in Dallas County, that these results take a long time,” Mayor Johnson said. “What I’m not understanding is why do we have electronic voting machines if we can’t get the results within minutes of the last person voting? What’s the hold up? To me, it undermines people’s confidence in our processes.”
Johnson said while he is not an elections expert, he offered a suggestion on helping the process.
“Look around. Find places where this is done well and copy them. We shouldn’t have so much pride. We should be willing to look around the country,” he said. “Find the places around the country where votes get cast and get counted the same day.”
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price of District 3 called the delayed results “unacceptable”.
“I’ve been through four administrators. Never seen any catastrophe like this. Never,” Commissioner Price said. “Time the elections administration do something different in terms of someone who can administer these elections and understand the appropriation of staff, of equipment. Something different needs to occur. We can’t keep doing it the same way.”
In an email to NBC 5 on Wednesday, Dallas County Elections Administrator Michael Scarpello said there was “not any delay in the precinct results in Dallas County”.
“Those results, as well as the Early Vote results were reported as regularly scheduled. We did work into the night duplicating some unreadable mail ballots that comprised a very small fraction of the overall election results,” Scarpello’s email read.
A request for further comment was not returned Wednesday.