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The Bexar County Elections Department is finishing its count of late mail-in ballots and provisional votes, Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said Monday.
She estimated there were 150 mail-in ballots and exactly 23 provisional ballots left to be counted. She said she hoped to have final results ready by late Tuesday.
“Our goal is to have all of the reports to the parties for their canvass,” she said at a news conference Monday. “We do know the Democratic Party is canvassing tomorrow night at 6:30 [p.m.], and we think the Republican Party is canvassing on Thursday. That will wrap up the elections.”
Because this was a primary election, the county parties are responsible for canvassing – or verifying the accuracy of votes counted – the elections themselves. Those results are then sent to the state parties, which conduct their own canvass.
Though Republican Party Chair Cynthia Brehm called for a recount of the election on Sunday, Brehm can’t make one happen on her own, Callanen explained.
“The election code is very specific,” Callanen said. “If there is a recount, it has to be requested by a candidate and not a political party.”
Candidates must ask their respective political parties and pay for the recount themselves. Former constable and sheriff candidate Michelle Barrientes Vela asked the Bexar County Democratic Party for a recount of the sheriff’s race, but the party rejected her petition because she did not provide the required $73,500, Democratic Party Chair Monica Alcantára said Friday. (Incumbent Sheriff Javier Salazar won the Democratic primary with 53.7 percent of the vote in a field of five candidates.)
Callanen also dismissed any claims that the election results were inaccurate.
“There’s a paper trail for each transaction,” she said.
In order to tally up votes, election officials must print out three copies of a vote summary of each race’s votes. Each vote center has its own vote summary, tabulated results, and signatures of voters who cast ballots at that polling place. Those three things are checked against each other to make sure there are no discrepancies, Callanen explained.
She showed reporters the vote summary printout from the vote center at Evers Elementary – a 20-foot-long piece of paper with each race and total votes of each printed in a long list. That’s also why the elections department did not post final election results until nearly 3 a.m. on Super Tuesday, Callanen said. Because the primary election ballots were so long, it took election judges even longer to finalize results.
“These tapes took the better part of an hour and a half to print before [election officials] could even think about closing down equipment and bringing the results in,” Callanen said. “I think that was the hardest thing because we didn’t have those instantaneous results.”
After election officials are done counting the mail-in and provisional ballots, they can start auditing random precincts for a race assigned to them by the Secretary of State’s Office, Callanen said. This time, the elections office will check votes in the railroad commissioner race in a few select precincts.
Callanen added that the elections department is still looking for exactly why early vote results took so long to count. She told reporters last Wednesday that software issues caused a delay in counting and therefore publication of early votes.
“When early vote numbers came in, we did not release them right away,” she said. “We went back and did our own audit to make sure everything was correct.”