Ballot issues may jeopardize Wichita Co. race as election winds down

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 5:44 PM CST
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WICHITA COUNTY, Texas (KAUZ) - With polls an hour away from closing, Wichita County is experiencing several technical issues -- one of which may lead to a race being rescheduled for a new election.

Ballot issues with the Justice of the Peace, precinct 4 race may cause the race to be contested in court. Candidate Randy Elliott told KAUZ’s Michael Grace that he had received calls from supporters saying they had been unable to vote for him when at the polls: the race was simply missing from their ballots.

News Channel 6 previously reported on how that race had been affected by a ballot issue during early voting, which caused elections in two precincts to be suspended over the weekend. At the time, County Clerk Lori Bohannon said they solved the issue after consulting with the state and reprogramming electronic ballots.

“When we did redistricting, behind the scenes somehow changed the JP’s and we didn’t catch it,” Bohannon explained.

While the issue was clearly not entirely fixed following reports, Bohannon’s explanation could still apply. County Judge Woody Gossom said he had been informed it was an issue with the census which caused the race to not appear on some ballots; redistricting was derived from census results.

If the race is successfully contested in court following election night on March 1, Judge Gossom said it will likely be rescheduled to coincide with any runoff elections.

The justice of the peace is in charge of presiding over the court for things like misdemeanors and small civil suits. The position is currently held by Judge Judy Baker, who is facing off against Randy Elliott during the March primary.

This was not the first issue encountered by Wichita County during this election. One polling station ran out of ballot paper at around 5 p.m. on election day. A polling worker at Region 9 told KAUZ’s Chantale Belefanti she had turned away five voters before learning that paper was on the way. Judge Gossom stated that poll workers were working hard and doing the best they could through such a hectic night.

News Channel 6 has teams all over Wichita County during election night. Make sure to stay tuned for further election coverage.

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