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Willacy County elections figures corrected

The Brownsville Herald

AUSTIN, November 7, 2004 ? In an attempt to save money on election materials, the Willacy County Clerk inadvertently gave Sen. John Kerry a false boost in the county?s tabulations.

The county incorrectly reported to the Texas Secretary of State on Election Day that 7,882 people had voted for president. Those figures, which were still posted on the Secretary of State Web site as late as Friday afternoon, showed 61 percent voted for Democrat Sen. John Kerry, and 38 percent voted for Bush.

It turns out Willacy County didn?t have such a high turnout, and Kerry didn?t do quite so well.

Correct figures show only 4,959 people voted for president in Willacy County. Of those, 55 percent voted for Kerry and 45 percent for Bush, according to figures from Terry Flores, Willacy County Clerk.

The Secretary of State office was working to correct the information Friday, said spokesman Bill Kenyon.

Flores said she bought only five of the 12 memory packs used to program the optical scanning voting machines. They were enough to tabulate accurate information, but she did not at first read the reports correctly, thereby counting each presidential vote from a straight-party ticket twice, she said.

The memory packs tabulate results and spit out a summary for the clerk.

She saved the county $2,500 by ordering fewer memory packs, she said. Now that she knows how to read them, she will continue using the software for future elections, she said.

?Right now, the county is in a very horrifying financial crunch ? and this is just a silly mistake. A very silly mistake,? Flores said.

Flores said she recognized the problem quickly on Election Night and contacted the Secretary of State office immediately.

The misreported information affected only the numbers for the presidential elections, Flores said.

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