Hill County – What Happened?
Direct Action Texas has obtained a copy of a letter from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) summarizing the results of their investigation into the Hill County 2016 Republican Primary. “In short, we found that a series of negligent errors on the part of election officials caused the skewed ballot count.” It goes on to state “This case highlights that inadequate safeguards exist to prevent such errors in future elections.” The full letter can be read HERE.
Direct Action Texas broke the story in August of 2016 that the primary had nearly 20% more votes than voters who voted in the election. The OAG opened a formal investigation, impounded the ballots and conducted a criminal investigation recount in November of 2016. Now we have the results.
The investigation uncovered Democrat voters added to the Republican primary list, absentee voters not added, cancelled absentee ballots, early voters which were not counted, provisional voters not entered properly, and more. Essentially every possible way one could mess up a count, Hill County managed to do.
Hill County Elections, the Republican Party of Hill County, the Republican Party of Texas, and the Secretary of State all certified this election AND there have been no reforms to ensure this doesn’t happen again, nor do we know how often this has been happening. In a previous study, data from the Texas Senate Research Center and Texas Legislative Council showed that 249 out of 254 counties had discrepancies between the number of votes and the number of voters in the 2016 primary. This should be alarming to all Texans.
The investigation came up with 7,346 voters having voted, although the official results to this day on the Secretary of State’s site show 8,929 and the results at the time showed 9,038.
The letter is a response to an inquiry from Senator Bob Hall, an election integrity champion. He raises several additional questions which are addressed in the letter. One is what roll did the SoS play, should or could they have caught this? The SoS is quick to remind us that state agencies have no inherent substantive powers, meaning they can only do what is expressly empowered to them in statute. In other words we need some legislative reforms. The SoS is however taking the initiative to highlight in their training with counties that each county must have a written plan to reconcile the number of voters to the number of votes for each election.
The last question raised is one of the equipment used. The letter raises a question as to the legality of using both paper ballots and DRE’s (digital voting machines) at the same polling location. Due to old standards still on the books, this is technically a violation, but had no affect on the count.
The bottom line is this election result was mishandled in every possibly mathematical way. The County and their staff were utterly inept, but ineptness is not a criminal violation. We must enact legislative reform empowering the SoS to have the ability to catch and fix these types of mistakes and incompetence. The 86th should be a fun session to be on the Election Committee.
Thank you to Senator Bob Hall for sharing this report.