Eroding Trust Wreaks Havoc on Texas Elections

Recently, multiple media outlets reported that Kerr County’s election administrators had resigned in protest after citizens demanded a switch to hand-counting election results.

Hand counting ballots is the latest issue to percolate to the top of many activists’ lists of solutions to cure a flawed election system in Texas and nationwide.

What has resulted is a clash between those who distrust machine counting and those concerned with the additional cost both in dollars and labor in the hand counting system.

In Kerr County this clash caused the resignation of the Tax-Assessor Collector Bob Reeves, whose job included running elections. Election administration then fell on County Clerk Jackie Dowdy who subsequently resigned. Now Dowdy’s chief deputy, Ian Collum, serves as interim clerk. Collum and his department, who haven’t handled an election in over a decade, are now suddenly responsible for this November’s Constitutional Election. These changes will inevitably lead to more distrust and acrimony within the county.

While hand-counting might be a viable path, in some instances, adoption isn’t a silver bullet. This step must be taken very carefully, factoring in all of the costs and potential consequences. Remember, all voting forms have been subject to rigging schemes.

The real underlying mission is restoring trust in our elections. We need to set about the hard work of reforming the cavalier manner in which elections are carried out and encourage broader participation in the process.

Strict chain of custody, thorough and more frequent audits, paper backups for ballots and poll lists, and a policy to stop certifying elections that aren’t reconciled would be steps in the right direction. These and other measures are aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the election process.

The distrust did not begin in 2020, activists have been calling on lawmakers to address giant loopholes and a lack of accountability in Texas elections for over a decade. Had needed changes been implemented, Texans might not be calling for drastic changes to the election system.

Aside from changing the way that elections are conducted, which is the prerogative of citizens within individual counties in Texas, there are ways that trust can be restored.

  1. Join the front lines of election integrity. Trustworthy, well-trained citizens are needed to run and monitor elections. This is true with our current system and even more crucial if you are advocating for hand-counting ballots.
  2. Calmly engage with local officials to gain firsthand knowledge of the election process.
  3. Call on your lawmakers to push for Governor Abbott to add election reforms to a special session.

What’s happened in Kerr County is a result of massive distrust in the system. This isn’t sustainable. Let’s get Texas back on a path to trustworthy elections.