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Ballot box found at Midland County Annex held 836 ballots

(KOSA)
Published: Dec. 16, 2019 at 8:12 AM CST
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A major development in the MISD bond election saga.

Monday morning elections officials opened a recently found ballot box, inside was 836 votes that weren’t counted in the recount.

For weeks the elections office and the public has been scratching their heads over how the recount had 820, then 840 fewer votes than the original tally.

There’s been all sorts of speculation but now we finally know it was all because someone put the wrong box in the wrong place.

“This ballot’s from this election,” Midland County Elections Administrator Deborah Land announced as she opened up that silver box before a courtroom.

Stunned murmurs filled the courtroom—836 votes lost for weeks and suddenly found.

But how did that happen?

It turns out that box containing early votes was accidentally set aside without a proper label after it was filled on election night.

The machine counted them the first time, but when it was time for a recount, that box was left behind to collect dust on a shelf.

“When all of these were pulled out for the recount that one was noted that it was probably an empty one,” Land said.

Members of the “We Choose Our Future” and “Better Bond for Midland” SPACs announced in a joint statement they’re contesting the election together.

PAC leaders expressed frustration that the mistake wasn’t caught earlier after they suspected votes were missing weeks ago during the recount.

“We started seeing every precinct was off and we said numerous times that night, ‘we’re missing a ballot box. We’re missing a ballot box,’” Sara Gonzales with the Better Bond for Midland said.

But also, some relief that at least a big part of this mystery has been solved.

“It is bigger than the bond in that this had to happen for us to be able to identify some things that need to be taken care of moving into elections in the future,” the “We Choose Our Future” Co-Chair Christine Foreman said.

Of course, with the city council election right around the corner in January, all eyes are on the election’s office.

“With the upcoming election, it’s going to be about how our representative officials that are there now and the ones that want to be in office say okay, this is a mistake that was made and this is how we’re going to fix it,” Tanner Fleet said.

“I’m still going to vote, and I just hope someone who’s honest is in charge of counting those votes,” Laura Miller said.

Land stood by the new voting equipment she said is making Midland elections faster and more accurate.

However, she said her staff needs much more training between now and January to use it properly and avoid another disaster.

“Hopefully, this will make us better election office to be administer of elections from now on,” she said.

The county attorney couldn’t tell CBS7 how long it will take for the election contest process to be completed and finally give Midland the real results of the bond election.

Meanwhile, Precinct 3 Commissioner Luis Sanchez got 15 signatures on a petition requesting inspectors for both the 2020 city council election and the 2020 primary election.