Given the results of last week's primary in Dallas County, whatever's in the mystery boxes discovered by county elections officials last week isn't going to matter. While a few races were close, none of them were close enough that they're going to be swung by adding 44 vote centers' worth of ballots to election totals. The county's going to count them anyway, though, thanks to an order from state district Judge Emily Tobolowsky.
Tuesday, Tobolowsky signed off on a request for Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole to reopen the Texas primary, at least in Dallas County, so that votes that went uncounted on election night can, you know, be counted.
Here's how things went wrong, according to Pippins-Poole: Texas' March 3 primary was the first big test for Dallas' new countywide voting system. Everyone hoping to cast a ballot in the county could go to any vote center in the county, even on election day. Precincts are a thing of the past, as far as where ballots are cast.
Allowing voters from different parts of the county means that vote centers need to be able to provide multiple ballots. That's accomplished with the county's new voting machines. Voters sign in, get a unique ballot and insert the ballot into a ballot marking machine. After they make their electoral selections, the machine marks their ballot. The voter then places the ballot into a scanner where it is tabulated. The scanner records the ballot on two flash drives.
Initially, Pippins-Poole thought election judges turned in each of the flash drives like they were supposed to on election night. Later, she said in an affidavit, she determined that wasn't the case.
"Consequently, I need to perform a paper recount of the ballots from 44 of the precinct scanner and tabulator machines that were not accounted for during the reconciliation process," Pippins-Poole said.
Here's a list of the polling places affected, broken out by ZIP code, as compiled by WFAA :
-Northlake Elementary School (part of Garland ISD) at 1626 Bosque Drive, Garland; Republican machine
-Vernon Price Elementary School at 630 Stroud Lane, Garland; Democratic and Republican machines
-O'Banion Middle School at 700 Birchwood Drive, Garland; Democratic machine
-Lyles Middle School at 4655 S. Country Club Road, Garland; Republican machine
-Travis World Language Academy at 525 NE 15th St., Grand Prairie; Democratic and Republican machines
-Hector P Garcia Elementary School at 2444 Graham St., Grand Prairie; Democratic machine
-Betty Warmack Library at 760 Bardin Road, Grand Prairie; Republican machine
-David Crockett Middle School at 2431 Hancock St., Irving; Republican machine
-W.T. Hanes Elementary School at 2730 Cheyenne St., Irving; Republican machine
-Dorsey Elementary School (part of Garland ISD) at 6200 Dexham Road, Rowlett; Democratic machine
-Poteet High School at 3300 Poteet Drive, Mesquite; Democratic and Republican machines
-J.R. Thompson Elementary School at 2525 Helen Lane, Mesquite; Democratic and Republican machines
-Multiple Careers Magnet Center at 4528 Rusk Ave., Dallas; Democratic machine
-Sunset High School Annex Building at 2021 W. Tenth St., Dallas; Republican machine
-Leslie Stemmons Elementary School at 2727 Knoxville St., Dallas; Republican machine
-Lelia P Cowart Elementary School at 1515 S. Ravinia Drive, Dallas; Republican machine
-Anson Jones Elementary School at 3901 Meredith Ave., Dallas; Republican machine
-George Peabody Elementary School at 3101 Raydell Place, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Cockrell Hill City Hall at 4125 W. Clarendon Drive, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Dan D. Rogers Elementary School at 5314 Abrams Road, Dallas; Republican machine
-Sure Foundation Baptist Church at 8805 Fireside Drive, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Oak Lawn United Methodist Church at 3014 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas; Democratic and Republican machines
-CFNI Student Center at 444 Fawn Ridge Drive, Dallas; Republican machine
-Urban Park Elementary School at 6901 Military Parkway, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Skyline Branch Library at 6006 Everglade Road, Dallas; Republican machine
-San Jacinto Elementary School at 7900 Hume Drive, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Edward Titche Elementary School at 9560 Highfield Drive, Dallas; Democratic and Republican machines
-Forester Field House at 8233 Military Parkway, Dallas; Republican machine
-George Truett Elementary School at 1811 Gross Road, Dallas; Democratic machine
-S.S. Conner Elementary School at 3037 Greenmeadow Drive, Dallas; Republican machine
-Harry C. Withers Elementary School at 3959 Northaven Road, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Benjamin Franklin Middle School at 6920 Meadow Road, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Adelle Turner Elementary School at 5505 S. Polk St., Dallas; Democratic machine
-Friendship West Baptist Church at 2020 Wheatland Road, Dallas; Republican machine
-Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy at A. Maceo Smith at 3030 Stag Road, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Richland College's LeCroy Center at 9596 Walnut St., Dallas; Republican machine
-Park in the Woods Recreation Center at 6801 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas; Democratic machine
-Mountain Creek Library at 6102 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas; Democratic machine
After the judge's ruling, Republican state Rep. Morgan Meyer and Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia issued a joint statement.
"Faith in government is only as strong as the integrity of our elections," the representatives wrote. "Now is not the time to point fingers, assign blame or play partisan politics as our first priority must be restoring the integrity of last Tuesday's election."
Meyer and Anchia want the county to appoint a bipartisan review board to analyze how the vote count went wrong.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told Meyer and Anchia that the county was "committed to getting to the bottom of what happened," and invited them to observe the ballots being counted.
County elections staff is expected to begin tabulating the ballots at 8 a.m. Wednesday.