WilCo reprinting 8,000 ballots after mistakenly leaving out a candidate

Williamson County

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — About 8,000 absentee ballots are already in the hands of Williamson County voters, but they’re all wrong. 

County officials said Wednesday, they’re working on reprinting the ballots because a Libertarian candidate’s name was missing.

“Essentially our office made a mistake,” said Williamson County Election Administrator Chris Davis.

Candidate William Bryan Strange III was not listed on the ballots for the presiding judge for the Court of Criminal Appeals. That’s a statewide race, so all Texans will see it on their ballots. 

“We regret the mistake we made, and we are working diligently to rectify this situation,” said Davis.

He continued, “We are expediting production of the corrected ballots-by-mail and expect to mail them next week. We ask anyone who received a Williamson County ballot-by-mail to wait and use the corrected ballot they will be receiving.” 

Davis said the mistake occurred when they didn’t go back to the Secretary of State’s website to double and triple check that they had the latest version of the ballot before printing.

“It was back on August 30th when we had downloaded our initial list of the candidates and our sample ballot for Williamson County from the State Secretary’s website,” he said. “At that time, it was an incomplete list that we downloaded from the website, and it was our mistake not to go back and check to see if there was a corrected or updated list later.”

Davis told KXAN the local Republican, Democrat and Libertarian parties all checked the absentee ballots, too, but didn’t notice the Libertarian candidate’s name was missing.  

Part of the process of correcting the ballots includes revising online sample ballots and reprogramming 180 electronic voting machines that were set up and ready to go for early voting. 

“We’re relieved that we caught it while it’s still correctable and while it still wouldn’t have, I believe, tremendous impact on elections,” Davis said. If the mistake was caught after all of their machines were set up, that would’ve meant re-programming more than 700 machines. 

“We are working to ensure that every voter has the correct ballot in front of them when they vote,” added Davis. “I informed the Libertarian Party county chair of our mistake and outlined the corrective measures we are taking.”

Davis said about 50 absentee ballots were turned into them already. “We’ll put the incorrect original ballots aside, and after we wait for revised ballots to actually come in, we’ll be able to match them” he said. 

He explained, the staff will be able to tell from the envelops which ones are which. If someone doesn’t turn in their new ballot, then he said, “We’ll count that incorrect ballot, and that race, obviously if they voted in that race, we’ll count that vote for that race.”

Davis said the Elections Office will be thoroughly vetting their internal processes and specifically improving ballot proofing procedures with more redundancy to avoid any future ballot missteps.

Williamson County’s Libertarian Party Chair Steve Harris said this week in an email, after learning about Williamson County’s error, the state party reached out to other counties to make sure Strange’s name wasn’t missing from other counties’ ballots. 

He said, “We are still awaiting responses from roughly 40 counties, but I’m pleased to report that we have found no other instances of this error so far.”

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