Hays County Commissioners Discuss Election Process Concerns Following Complaint

Staff Report

On Tuesday, the Hays County Commissioners Court held a discussion on a constituent’s concern about elections requirements.

The discussion was in regard to a complaint filed against the elections office by Sam Brannon, a Hays County Republican Party precinct chair.

Brannon submitted a complaint to the Texas Secretary of State after the March 2020 Primary, who requested nine documents related to a recount for the races of Railroad Commissioner in Precincts 121, 316, and 336.

According to the complaint, no results were shown for mail-in or early voting ballots, leading the resident to believe the recount had not been done for those two types of ballots.

Jennifer Anderson, the Elections Administrator, said the Secretary of State had received Brannon’s complaint and dismissed it because “there is no merit to it.”

According to Anderson, the recount was performed by her office and was done to the letter of the law set by the Texas Elections Code. 

The Texas Election Code states how recounts are to be performed by any office in Title 13, Section 214.

“Their report to Mr. Brannon was missing the data field for early voting,” Anderson said, “Which they contacted Mr. Brannon on multiple occasions but he did not call back.”

Anderson said she gave all partial recount paperwork to Brannon and attempted to call him and left a message to talk about the policies for the partial count, which are performed according to the Elections Code. 

Anderson continued to say she provided the results of the audit to Brannon before they were sealed away for the 22-month retention period.  

According to Anderson, the election results, once locked away for the 22-month retention, are only obtainable through a court order.

During the discussion, Anderson and commissioners observed it was unclear what exactly was being asked for in some cases.

Commissioners discussed adding several procedures to the process to reassure constituents and provide documentation for future inquiries.

The discussion concluded with further comments related to implementing a ballot drop off box for the November 2020 election.

“As a chair of the Elections Commission and the chair of the Commissioner’s court and sitting on the elections board — I can’t sidestep this,” Becerra said. “This is real. And in such an important presidential election, it’s important that we do everything as we should.”

In a previous meeting, Mark Kennedy, Legal Counsel for Hays County, provided the court with his office’s review of the Texas Statue, which they believe would allow for a single ballot drop-off box to be implemented at the Hays County Government Center where the Elections Administration Office is located.

Kennedy said the county would have to follow the same procedures and protocols that are performed when mail-in ballots are delivered directly to the Elections Administrator’s Office with a mail-in ballot drop off box.

The ballot drop-off box would have to be staffed, and voters would be required to show picture ID before their ballots could be placed inside the box.

Commissioner Lon Shell noted the counties which do accept mail-in ballots to be dropped off at any of their county clerk’s satellite offices do not have a county elections administrator to run elections.

“I would love to be able to have other locations too because I think that would make it easier for voters,” Shell said. “It brings up a whole other issue if you start developing sites where these ballots can be physically put in something. You better have the resources around that to ensure no one can come into question of what happened when someone put that mail-ballot in that box.”

No action was taken Tuesday by commissioners; however, Anderson agreed to look at implementing new procedures above those outlined in the election code to provide more documentation throughout the election process.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button