Voters in Jarrell received wrong ballots

JARRELL, Texas (KXAN) — A ballot box controversy in a north Williamson County community has voters questioning last week's election results. Election officials estimate somewhere between 20-30 voters in Jarrell received the wrong ballot.

The error meant that group did not vote in a particular local school board race – a race veteran school teacher Rusty Bryson lost by just three votes.

“I was a little bit in shock,” Bryson said. “Three votes is quite a difference."

Poll workers had the correct ballots, but they overlooked them early in the day, according to Rick Barron, the Williamson County elections administrator.

"They had five ballot styles there, and the majority of voters received the correct ballot style during the time in question," said Baron, who added that he made his estimated based on an accounting by the election judge of the first 80 voters of the day.

Bryson has filed a complaint with the Texas Secretary of State. Part of her complaint alleges improperly trained poll workers. A document provided to her by Barron’s office showed both workers had completed the necessary in-person class but not additional online training.

"While that is heavily suggested, I don't believe that there is anything in place that is going to be something that prohibits them from being able to complete their job if they have not done it,” said Connie Watson, Williamson County public information officer.

Barron said he and his training staff contend the Jarrell incident was an isolated one, as workers from other precincts "completed their work without handing out incorrect ballots."

"We tell poll workers that the training is required, but we are unable to compel them to complete that training," he said. "It is their choice."

Watson said the county's election commission will soon meet to discuss the race but also a better system beyond paper ballots.

"With the voting centers that would start hopefully in 2013, it would be all electronic voting,” she added.

Still weighing her options, Bryson can contest the election, but that would take time and money. She wants a win, but at this point she is more intent on protecting voters from something like this in the future.

"It's a matter of doing what's right for the citizens of Jarrell,” she said.

The elections board counted the provisional and military ballots on Tuesday evening and the outcome was still the same. Her complaint, which points out two other possibly-affected races – Jarrell City Council and Chisholm Trail SUD board - also alleges:

Poll workers allowed a citizen of Jarrell to loiter in the voting area handling paper ballots. Paper ballots were not placed in a secured lock box. Poll workers continued to give out wrong ballots after they were made aware of the problem.

Copyright 2014 KXAN TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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