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Bexar Election Officials Point To Tech Issues To Explain Delayed Primary Vote Results

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San Antonio voters went to bed Tuesday night without knowing the evening's final election results. The Bexar County Elections Department explained Wednesday morning that technology issues persisted through election day and that software from the company Election Systems & Software crashed three times.

According to Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen, the voting machines were producing good tallies, but when they tried to combine data, things went awry.

“So they started to add the ‘by mail,’ and it crashed,” she said. “And we said ‘Ok, let’s start over,’ And it crashed. And we made the decision that we had to get some results out. We knew they were in there. We knew they were accurate.”

The final time it crashed, her team decided to release the parsed data. A more traditional-looking compiled list is expected Thursday.

Callanen gave her staff an A- for the effort, saying that about 95 percent of the 113,000 people who voted did so without any problems. In part, the record setting turnout — the most sheer number of people in a primary in the county — was to blame.

But it wasn’t software that troubled between 50 and 60 of the county’s 280 polling places. Problems setting up the equipment delayed the 7 a.m. opening of many spots. They had to “unscramble” machines at those sites, Callanen said.

At least 12 of these polling places were more than 15 minutes late, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project, and some significantly later.

“In the morning, we had a rough start. We had a rough start,“ she added.

At the Copernicus Community Center they had no power. They thought it might be a power outage until someone realized a power strip had not been activated.

Callanen said the county successfully used more young poll assistants and would do more to add younger poll workers, indicating that a more tech-savvy workers would have saved time.

She also said more technology training would be added.

Bexar County and Dallas County saw the most delayed starts in Texas, according to TCRP data.

“And our data shows that the polling locations that were most affected by these issues were in communities of color in Bexar County and other counties across the state,” said Beth Stevens, director of TCRP’s voting rights program.

She said they know some of those people just didn’t vote because of familial and work obligations. She called the results unacceptable.

“We need to make changes before November because the turnout in the primary election while it was high for Texas, was not nearly as high as it is going to be in November," she said.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive.