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Judge allows Dallas County recount of missed ballots to move forward

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Dallas voters cast their ballots during the 2020 primary on March 3, 2020. Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

A week out from Super Tuesday, a recount is moving forward in Dallas County.

State district Judge Emily Tobowlowsky on Tuesday approved the county’s request to redo the tally of votes cast in the March 3 primary after it discovered that an unknown number of ballots from 44 tabulating machines were missed in the initial count. It is unclear how many ballots were missing, and if the missing ballots might affect the outcome of any races.

Dallas County elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole made the request for a recount late Friday after finding discrepancies in her vote count. The county will not recount all ballots cast in the election, but will reopen the tabulation on Wednesday to add the missing ballots to its initial tally.

Dallas County officials realized they were missing votes when they were unable to reconcile the count of voters who checked in at an unknown number of polling places and the number of votes recorded. The initial vote count was compiled from flash drives taken from the county’s tabulating machines. There were 454 polling places running on Election Day, and some sites had more than one machine into which voters fed their marked paper ballots to be scanned and tabulated.

The county initially believed it had received flash drives from all of the machines distributed throughout the county, Pippins-Poole wrote in an affidavit filed with the court. But officials later discovered that ballots from 44 of the tabulating machines were “unaccounted for.”

Dallas County is among other large counties in Texas that recently switched over to voting equipment that allows voters to fill out their ballots on touch screen machines that then mark up a paper ballot that are kept by election officials.

The county’s recount of the missing 44 tabulating machines will be based on those paper ballots.