More Missing Votes and a Mystery Box in Midland
Midland County officials seem determined for Midland voters to lose complete faith in the integrity of their elections.
A $569 million bond passed by 18 votes and then failed by 25 votes on Election night. Then the bond passed by 11 in the recount, but 820 votes were missing. The Midland ISD School Board rushed to canvass the vote despite the missing votes. Next there was an attempt to find those missing votes with a partial recount. The results? The missing vote tally rose to 840. Now Midland County has scheduled another count, a full counting of ballots and the opening and potential counting of a new mystery box.
Thursday’s Recount That Wasn’t a Recount
In what can only be seen as an attempt to redeem themselves, Midland County Elections was granted a court order from District Judge Lindemood to open the ballot boxes once again. This time, a team of two would physically count the ballots, with a third person to count if the first two counts didn’t match. Then the ballots were ordered to be counted by the DS450 scanner and tabulator.
This last portion of the count became contentious when all parties realized the machine could not count the ballots without producing a “for” and “against” result. Could the pro-bond PAC, We Choose Our Future, be afraid of what that result might show? The election has been canvassed. The only way to change the election now is with a contest. Elections Administrator Deborah Land opted to replace the electronic count with another manual counter and all sides agreed.
All this counting stopped abruptly, however, when the first batch of ballots counted revealed a widening of the gap in votes by 20. Apparently, the counting of these first two boxes did not solve the problem as EA Land had hoped. District Judge Lindemood was called upon again to allow for a pause in the counting process until Monday December 16th.
The Counting Continues with a Bonus Mystery Box
Not only will all of the ballot boxes be reopened on Monday, a new box will be added into the mix. This locked and sealed ballot box was discovered on the afternoon of December 12, 2019 according to the court order. Sources tell us the box was thought to be empty until someone picked it up and felt its weight. The Elections Office is currently unclear if the box is from November of 2018 or November of 2019.
The sudden appearance of a ballot box is not surprising in the case of Midland County Elections. When the voting machines were inspected a ballot was found inside one of the collection boxes under a scanner.
What We Know
Direct Action Texas processed all of the data available to us and found:
- The original ballot count was 23,828. The voter file contains 23,700 names. Therefore, the original count had 128 more ballots than voters.
- The recount ballot count was 22,987. The voter file contains 23,700 names. Therefore, the recount had 713 more voters than ballots.
- The recount had 841 fewer ballots than the original count.
- The recount had 392 fewer votes FOR and 428 votes AGAINST for a total of 820 fewer votes overall.
The Only Solution
The situation in Midland is reminiscent to what we saw in Hill County, an Elections Administrator not up to the task who mishandled the ballots. In the case of Hill, there were more votes than voters and it was determined that Mail-In ballots had been counted three times, Early Voting twice, and Election Day once. There were other errors found but not enough to change the outcome of any races.
In Midland, we have more voters than votes. This situation is much more troubling. Our calculations show the votes of 713 citizens of Midland County were not counted and so 713 voices were silenced. This is unacceptable in any election, but even worse in one determined by less than a dozen votes.
Better Bond for Midland is attempting to ensure those voices are heard by announcing they will file an election contest. If successful, it will mean the bond election will be run again. Meanwhile, Midland ISD has just posted the Agenda for its December 16th Trustee Meeting. The Agenda makes their intentions to go ahead with issuing the bonds clear. They will not wait to hear the will of the people. They are rushing to cash in.