Breckenridge Texan

Rogers, Olcott election headed for recount; local tax office to be closed Wednesday during recount

Rogers, Olcott election headed for recount; local tax office to be closed Wednesday during recount
June 07
16:35 2022

By Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

The Texas House District 60 Republican Primary Runoff Election in Stephens, Palo Pinto and Parker counties is headed for a recount. Candidate Mike Olcott, who was defeated by incumbent Glenn Rogers during the May runoff election, has requested a vote recount.

According to a statement by the Olcott Campaign, he requested the recount after the vote count in Parker County increased by about 2,000 votes on the Wednesday after Election Day when some additional votes were discovered. The original vote totals on election night showed Rogers had won by 752 votes; however, with the addition of the new votes, Rogers’ lead dropped to a little more than 300 votes.

“While I do not expect foul play, HD 60 voters deserve to have full confidence that every legal vote was counted and the outcome was accurate. My hope is a recount will do just that,” Olcott said in a Facebook post.

Rogers said he doesn’t expect the recount to change the outcome of the election. “It’s unnecessary,” he said. “But it gives us just an opportunity to win again. The vote margin is, I think, 312 votes, last I saw. There’s no way … the recount’s going to change that.”

Rogers, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2020, said he is confident in the Texas election system. “What we did with our election integrity bill that we just passed in the special session, we just made it that much harder to cheat,” he said. “And you know, I think I can’t say that for the whole country certainly, but I feel very comfortable about the safety and security of our elections here in Texas. But you know, when you have that many votes, if you look hard, you’re going to find some minor mistakes, but nothing that would be substantial enough to alter this election.”

The vote discrepancy

On election night during the runoff election in May, the Texas Secretary of State website’s reported unofficially that – from all three counties combined – Rogers received a total of 9,261 votes and Olcott received 8,509, for a difference of 752 votes.

However, according Gina Osborn, Chief Deputy of the Elections Office in Parker County, it was later discovered that, because of a human error, some votes in Parker County were not tabulated until the next day. The votes were added to the count machine, but when the information was moved over to the report, the tabulation button hadn’t been pressed, so some of the votes weren’t added to the report.

Once the additional votes were counted, Rogers had a new total of 10,033 votes to Olcott’s 9,721, for a difference of 312 votes, according to the Texas Tribune’s Election Results page.

The Recount

The request for a recount requires that the ballots in all three counties be recounted.

In Stephens County, the recount will held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 8, in the District Courtroom on the second floor of the Courthouse. The proceeding will be closed to the public.

Stephens County Elections Administrator Christie Latham said the process will include four teams doing the counting, each handling one precinct. The team that finishes first will then count the remaining precinct. Each team will have one caller who reads off the name of the candidate that is marked on the ballot and two who tally the votes. Also, each candidate is allowed to have one poll watcher at each team to monitor the counting process. There can be up to eight poll watchers in the courtroom on Wednesday, one from each candidate’s campaign at each counting station.

Stephens County Republican Chairman Chuck Cook said because Stephens County only had a total of 1,015 votes, he expects the recount to be finished fairly quickly. And because of the type of system the county uses — paper ballots that are then scanned in — he doesn’t really expect any discrepancies.

“We’re going to try and keep it simple, accurate and quick,” Cook said.

Latham also said she doesn’t expect any discrepancies because of the type of system Stephens County uses. She said as a matter of routine they are required to do a manual recount on election night to spot-check the election results.

She said the Secretary of State assigns them certain precincts and certain races for which they have to hand-count the ballots to make sure the hand-count matches the machine-count. She said the spot-check during the runoff election in May was spot-on and the two counts matched perfectly.

“Now remember, I didn’t count every race, but the ones I did count matched to a T,” Latham said, adding that the race in Stephens County wasn’t even close, but they are just having to do the recount because the county is part of the State House of Representatives race that is being contested.

Latham said the Stephens County Tax Assessor/Collector’s office will be closed Wednesday morning, June 8, while the staff assists with the recount procedure.

The Parker County recount will take place on Thursday, and the Palo Pinto County recount will be on Friday.

How the recount works

According to Sam Taylor, Assistant Secretary of State for Communications, the purpose of the recount is to determine if the candidate who was originally declared the winner is, in fact, the winner.

Once the votes are recounted, they will then be canvassed and recertified through the canvassing process. Then, they become the final official number of votes for that election, Taylor said.

“So that new canvass becomes the official number. Even if it doesn’t change the results, if … one vote changes or two votes change, but it doesn’t actually change the outcome of the race, regardless, that becomes the new canvass,” he said.

The cost of the recount depends on the outcome of the recount, Taylor explained.

”So the person requesting the recount has to put down a deposit. If the results change, i.e. the candidate who lost and requested a recount ends up being the winner, then that candidate gets their entire deposit back. And they’re declared the winner,” he said.

However, he said, if the outcome of the election is not changed by the recount, then the person who requested the recount and put up the deposit loses the deposit and has to pay for any additional costs that were incurred to hold the recount.

“Even if the votes change by a small margin, if the results are still the same, then that person who requested it has to give up their deposit,” Taylor said. “A recount isn’t to determine whether or not the results were canvassed and counted properly; it’s to determine whether or not the winner who was declared at the first canvass is indeed the winner. So if the results change, i.e. there’s a different winner declared, then that’s when the person gets their deposit back and is obviously declared the winner, instead. But, the results of the election have to change; there has to be a new person declared elected for the results to change. Otherwise, if the results don’t change at all, the person who put down that deposit loses that full deposit and is on the hook for any additional costs.”

 


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