Fighting for election integrity and transparency

MISD and its allies continue to spin

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MISD’s public relations offensive continues.

At the start of the week, MISD’s pro-bond cheerleaders rightly questioned the chain of custody of the over 800 ballots discovered Monday. Later that same day, the cheerleaders asked a judge to count all “legal” ballots.

In the press, this was portrayed as MISD wanting to make sure all votes were counted, including the 800+ they’d previously thrown under the bus. Rick Davis suggested the found votes be tallied and added to the previous recount.

In addition to being slapdash, this suggested approach is likely not allowed. Continued fits and starts in election execution and messaging are why Midland voters are uncomfortable about this election.

MISD leadership has suggested it knows there’s no trust in this election. A new bond was suggested earlier in the week by MISD leadership but continued posturing suggests this may have been a head-fake.

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Clearing Up Confusion in Midland

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The Midland Reporter-Telegram published a story intending to answer frequently asked questions about the Midland ISD bond election. A few of those answers were incomplete or inaccurate.

“Did the recount have to be canvassed on Nov. 26?”

No. Section 213.057 of the Election Code does state that the canvass should take place “as soon as practicable” but it goes on to say, “after completion of the recount.” We would argue that with 820 votes missing, the recount was not complete. MISD could have pressed harder on the Elections Department to locate the missing ballots before the canvass. Would MISD have accepted such a discrepancy if the outcome had been the failure of the bond? 

“Will finding these votes change the outcome of the bond?”

It is true that finding the votes will not change the outcome. However, the article is incorrect when it states, “the results, however, can be contested, and that could change the outcome.” This is a common misconception. An election contest challenges the election not the outcome. The judge’s decision is whether or not to void the entire election, not to do another recount. 

“What will happen next? Will a revote take place?”

Better Bond for Midland and We Choose Our Future will file and have filed, respectively, election contests. However, the similarities end there. Both sides do not agree that there will not be a revote. We Choose Our Future incorrectly assumes the contest will be yet another recount. Better Bond for Midland is calling for a voided election.

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Midland ISD Bond Fight: New Contest Filing

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Christine Foreman and David Joyner of the pro-bond We Choose Our Future PAC have filed a petition for an election contest in the Midland ISD Bond Election that has been fraught with errors and controversy. Their filing came the same day Midland County Elections opened a recently discovered ballot box revealing 836 ballots that were not counted in the recount. Their petition calls for “a manual recount to ensure all legal ballots cast in this election are counted and determine the true outcome thereof.” This is problematic in two ways.

First of all, in a press conference, Christine Foreman herself questioned the chain of custody for the newly discovered ballot box. Why would she, or anyone, want those ballots counted if they could have been compromised? Secondly, contests are not meant to result in manual recounts. There has already been a recount. That ship has sailed. In the case of a bond election, a true election contest would call for a judge to declare the entire election void. Midland ISD would then have to start again and hold another election if it wanted to continue to pursue the bond. 

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More Missing Votes and a Mystery Box in Midland

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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

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Midland ISD Bond Update

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The Midland ISD school bond election has had a dizzying number of missteps and information false starts since November. This has lead to quite a bit of confusion.

So, where are we now?

The simple, somewhat unfulfilling answer is, we’re getting closer to the definitive case against the handling of this election but are still in process.

Unease is understandable. For one, there’s a lot of money at stake but more importantly, there needs to be trust in the process.

Election Administrator Deborah Land and the MISD school board have shown time and again throughout that rushing and selective transparency don’t instill trust or lead to defendable results.

Data from the recount was delayed in being released last week after Land ran out of ink during a printing session she publicly requested. Now that the requisite ink has been acquired and data finally printed, comparisons can be made and a summation of the discrepancies compiled.

Based on what we already know, a case against not only the election but the individuals overseeing its execution is coming. And, until changes are made, Midland County elections will not enjoy the levels of trust they need and deserve.

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