Travis County GOP to Implement Hand Counting for Mail-In Ballots in March 2024 Primaries

The Travis County Republican Party is set to ,,implement hand counting exclusively for mail-in ballots in the upcoming March 2024 primaries. Despite facing challenges during negotiations with the Travis County Democratic Party for a primary election contract, the GOP successfully secured approval to hand count Republican mail-in ballots. This move sets a precedent for other counties to follow suit if they wish to do so. 

While the Travis County GOP is set to hand county mail-in ballots, they encountered obstacles when attempting to extend hand counting to early voting ballots, failing to meet the December 31, 2023, deadline for the necessary volunteers and resources. County Clerk Dyana Limon-Mercado confirmed that the Party did not notify the Clerk’s office by the agreed-upon deadline, indicating an inability to meet the criteria for hand-counting early voting ballots.

According to the Travis County Clerk’s office, the ,,requirements for hand counting early voting ballots include:

1. Identifying and securing appropriate counting location(s).

2. Assigning an early voting Hand Count Director & support team.

3. Determining the number of required dedicated counting staff through a hand count test run.

4. Recruiting the necessary number of dedicated counting staff.

5. Procuring ballot boxes for all early voting sites for the separate depositing of Party ballots.

6. Procuring materials for all early voting sites to clearly indicate separate balloting deposit procedures.

Despite the setback, the GOP chair remains optimistic about the benefits of hand counting for mail-in ballots. Mackowiak successfully negotiated several changes to the ,,election contract, gaining approval from Travis County commissioners in the previous month. Additionally, the GOP put out a ,,resolution urging Governor Abbott to “allow each authority holding an election the flexibility to use additional methods of hand counting that are more efficient, transparent, and verifiable than is currently prescribed. “ Advancing Integrity will continue to follow the hand-counting case in Travis County.