Late election results from Angelina County caused by two voting systems

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – The last vote was cast in Angelina County at 7:00 last night. It wasn't until five hours later the, that we knew the results of the election.

When most of Texas had results - Angelina County candidates, their friends and families - were still waiting.

"The waiting is always hard… It's a little bit of a roller coaster," described Scott Cooper, winner of Republican primary - Pct. 4 Commissioner.

Why did it take so long to get votes counts and totals reported? Electronic plus paper ballots.

"Electronic voting is actually a lot easier to count. Although its not meant to mix electronic voting with paper ballots. So that's what takes so long - the paper ballots," said Thelma "Midget" Sherman, Angelina Co. Tax Assessor/Collector & Elections Administrator.

A federal law requires the county to use the electronic machines, but it's a local decision to also use paper ballots, which could soon be phased-out.

"I think we're getting there. I think the state has recognized that. I think its coming down to local jurisdictions starting to recognize that," said Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter.

Paper ballots also adds to election costs.

"Does it cost more to have the paper ballots? Definitely. If voters are looking to cut costs elections - we need to get rid of paper ballots," said Cooper.

Not only would it be more economical to cut out paper ballots, it would also cut down so much time spent counting them.

Some worry that not offering a ballot option would lose voters.

"I was at some of the voting locations myself…  I Heard the comments. I'm not going to ever vote - I don't trust those machines," said Sherman.

Even Scott Cooper says the wait may be worth the votes.

"Personally I'd rather have our voters comfortable in the election process than having the election being finished earlier," said Cooper.

For now, the county's answer for a more efficient election is educating they shift to electron-only voting.

"Would it stream line things?  I think a whole lot. Is it trustworthy and reliable?  I think it is," said Suiter.

Some voter stations used very few paper ballots, while others were mainly on paper.

County leaders will now discuss moving to electronic-only voting.

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