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Election Official Says Lesson To Be Learned From Voter Card Confusion

Ryan Loyd

Try as they might, voters and elections officials aren’t always on the same page when it comes to information needed to vote.

That played out in real life Monday at the start of early voting when District 5 David Medina’s campaign said a voter who went to the Las Palmas Library to cast a vote couldn’t do so, which is because she’s not a resident of District 5.

The woman called the Bexar County Elections office, who confirmed that she is in San Antonio ISD’s District 5, but San Antonio City Council District 1, represented by Diego Bernal.

"She thought she was in District 5," said Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen. "The polling officials looked her up in our computer and said no ma'am, you're in District 1."

The situation caused confusion and prompted elections officials at the library to turn the woman away.

For Medina, the problem is more than a voter confused over her district.

"It's already tough enough as it is to get people out to the polls to vote a second time," he said. "And we're grateful that they came out to vote in the general election, but this runoff election is even more important because this is going to determine their elected official moving forward for the next two years."

Medina is being challenged by Shirley Gonzales, a small business owner in the district. He did not get the majority of the votes during the May 11 general election.

The councilman has experienced this scenario before. In 2009, during his runoff election, Medina won the runoff by a narrow 45 votes against his opponent, Lourdes Galvan.

Medina said every vote is important and insists confusion can’t cloud voting.

"Right now we're fighting tooth and nail to make sure that we can increase voter turnout, especially in District 5, and with these types of issues and challenges presented to a voter, it does nothing but discourage voter turnout," he said.

Callanen said the voter registration cards that people used during this election did not even have their council districts printed on them because the city’s redistricting was approved this year. She guessed that the woman was using an old voter card Monday.

She said cards can be confusing with the two numbers side by side, and iterated how much everyone still learns after all these years.

"It was a good teaching moment for us," she said.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.