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Tarrant had defective mail-in ballots in November. Here’s the fix for May 1 election

Brian Lopez
·2 min read

In November, scanners rejected about one-third of Tarrant County mail-in ballots because the bar codes were not legible. To avoid the same mistake and questions about election integrity, county officials ended their contract with the company that printed the ballots.

The county will no longer work with Runbeck Election Services, an election company based in Phoenix.

Instead, the county will print the ballots in-house because demand of mail-in ballots aren’t as high as the November general election. The county will look for another state-approved company soon.

“I feel very comfortable with the integrity of these elections,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said.

So far, the county has printed and mailed 9,517 ballots since March 16, a great difference from the almost 83,000 the county mailed between Sept. 19 and Oct.19, according to county data.

Ballots with damaged barcodes are not uncommon as people can damage the ballot, but last fall it happened in a big wave. This required the county’s ballot board — made up of Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians — to redo the ballots.

When a ballot’s bar code cannot be read by the mail-in ballot sorting machinery, those ballots have to be manually recreated by election workers — who work in pairs, with each member from a different political party.

The mail-in ballot process drew in a lot of criticism from residents who believed fraud could be involved and claimed it was one of the reasons the county was carried by President Joe Biden.

Whitley swiftly dismissed the possibility and said most of the county’s Texas House races and other local seats were filled by Republicans. He believes Tarrant County turned blue in the presidential election because people were anti-Trump.

This time around, Whitley hopes to avoid any controversy regarding mail-in ballots. Early voting begins Monday for the May 1 municipal and school board elections.

“It’s a very fair process, and one that maintains the integrity of those ballots,” Whitley said.