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Ballot glitch didn't affect outcome, Williamson spokeswoman says (TX)
AMERICAN-STATESMAN. November 06, 2008. By Mark Lisheron

A software defect that caused as many as 590 Williamson County voters to get the wrong ballot Tuesday did not affect the outcome of any races or propositions, county spokeswoman Connie Watson said Wednesday.

The ballot mix-up was the one of the few problems experienced by voting officials despite heavy voter turnout in Travis, Hays and Williamson counties.

Williamson County election officials hunkered down Wednesday to assess what went wrong with Poll book software installed before early voting at a cost of $56,445.

Federal Help America Vote funding paid for nearly half of the cost of installing the software in 71 voting machines in Williamson County. The state and county paid the rest of the cost.

On Wednesday, officials pinpointed a problem in the transfer of voter information from the county's early-voting program to the Election-Day program, Watson said.

All of the races involving candidates were the same on all ballots, so none of those races was affected, Watson said. The ballots differed in whether they contained bond issues for the City of Georgetown, the City of Austin and Round Rock Independent School District. All of the propositions passed by margins so wide that the glitch would not have changed the outcomes, she said.

An hour after the polls opened at 7 a.m., it became apparent to some election judges, poll workers and voters that the computer was issuing the wrong ballots at 16 precincts, Watson said. At 8:15 a.m., all precincts reverted to manually checking addresses and giving voters the correct ballot, she said.

Though 590 was the maximum number of possible errors, a preliminary canvass by election officials determined that no more than 400 ballots might have gone to the wrong voters.

Many of the problems were caught and corrected at the time of the vote, by either election personnel or the voter, Watson said.

Election officials in Travis and Hays counties reported no major problems Tuesday. Technical problems caused Hays County to open its Precinct 228 voting station in Buda about 30 minutes late Tuesday morning, Joyce Cowan, Hays County's elections administrator, said Wednesday.

mlisheron@statesman.com; 445-3663

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