Boundary blunder causes hundreds of mail-in ballots to be reprinted in Caldwell County

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LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) — Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden says their elections office has resent 613 mail-in ballots because of a boundary mistake that put one election on some voters’ ballots that shouldn’t have been there.

Haden says the unincorporated community of Maxwell formed a special utility district, and the board of directors is supposed to be on the ballot for those voters.

Haden says the county elections office sent a proof of the ballot, along with the boundaries, to the special utility district for approval.

“They approved it, sent it back, said it was good. And then we discovered that there was an error,” he said.

But the boundaries for the special district were incorrect, as well as some name spellings.

KXAN spoke with Justin Ivicic, general manager for Maxwell’s special utility district. He says they are working to figure out what happened and make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.

“I don’t know if my ballot’s been returned. I don’t know if it was accepted but invalidated…” said Bonnie Marshall, who lives in precinct 4.

Marshall reached out to KXAN with those questions after seeing a social media post alleging the ballot mistake but not hearing anything from the county.

“It’s just very confusing,” she said.

She is now among those who will be getting a new mail-in ballot.

Haden says the county called the Texas Secretary of State’s office, which advised they reprint most of the mail-in ballots for precincts 2, 3, 4 and a small part of precinct 1.

The Caldwell County elections administrator says that’s because ballot numbers are connected by a sequence—so, even if someone’s mail-in ballot did not have a mistake, they will probably receive a new one to fill out.

About four and a half miles south of Maxwell, Martindale’s mayor says one of his voters reported the error to him after seeing the Maxwell election on his mail-in ballot.

“Citizens’ confidence in the process is low right now. So something like this could be detrimental,” said Sonja Villalobos, Martindale Mayor Pro Tem.

What happens next?

If you have already received a mail-in ballot in Caldwell County, you will most likely be receiving another one, along with a letter containing an explanation.

If you’ve already sent your first one in: “If you’ve already sent your ballot in—the incorrect ballot—that it would be destroyed, and that you need to use your correct ballot,” Haden explained.

If you have not submitted your mail-in ballot yet, “then we asked them to mark their envelope void, send that back; we would destroy it, and use the new ballot,” he said.

Elections administrator Pamela Ohlendorf says they have already started to resend some ballots. She says her team consists of about three people and has been working 6 a.m. to midnight to send them.

She also says they’ve received almost 3,000 requests for mail-in ballots and all ballots should be fixed from here on out—including for in-person early voting.

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