AUSTIN (KXAN) — Paper ballots contributed to slow election returns in Travis County and a few other large counties across the state.
In Travis County, final election results did not come in until 3:40 a.m. on Wednesday, the morning after Tuesday’s election. There was a surge in voting on Election Day, leading to 122,059 people casting a ballot overall, or 15.17% of registered voters.
While this was quite good for an off-year election in which there were no major political candidates on the ballot, it is still well below vote totals on a primary or general election during a presidential race. That raises some concerns going in to 2020.
In 2016, more than 65% of registered Travis County voters cast a ballot with early voting ending with record-high turnout of more than 50 percent of registered voters, or 372,188 people heading to the polls.
However, Travis County and many other counties such as Williamson and Hays debuted brand new voting machines this election. The machines stamp paper ballots and that led to some problems.
At more than 10 voting centers in Travis County, there was a difference between the number of voters who checked in and the number of paper ballots counted, officials said. This resulted in county officials having to recount all the ballots at those voting centers.
Officials believe that may have been due to people leaving with their paper ballot instead of finalizing their vote and putting it in the voting machine. Some of that can be attributed to user error with the new machines.
Later Wednesday, KXAN will ask the Travis County Clerk’s Office how this could impact the upcoming 2020 presidential election. They did not want to speak early Wednesday morning. Instead, they plan to hold a news conference at 2 p.m.
Voting woes in Houston
Central Texas wasn’t alone with problems.
In Houston, Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman tweeted out a letter around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday blaming some of the delay on the state for changing the reporting process at the last minute.
“As you may know, these changes were prompted by a last-minute advisory from the Texas Secretary of State that changed our previously approved Election Night reporting process,” Trautman wrote. “Our office is as frustrated as everyone else because of the State’s decision. This change requires a more manual process, whereas our previous plan involved transmitting results electronically over a secured encrypted private network, the intranet. “
Trautman also thanked everyone for their patience as they worked to count votes late into the night.