WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) – Wichita County Commissioners updated the public on fraud allegations in the November 2020 election, including a measure that passed the Wichita Falls Independent School District $300 million to build the two new high schools.
A lot was discussed Monday, but most importantly, how to prevent this from happening again.
How are more ballots turned in than people voted? That’s what citizens of Wichita Falls wanted to know after the November 2020 election and numerous open records requests resulting in little to no answers.
“On part of the ballots, we had some ballots where we had the original and not the duplicate ballot or we had the envelope where had the ballot mailed in, but not the applicant, and I can’t explain why some of those items are missing. That was from the staff and people handling it over the years and couldn’t tell you at all where that equipment was. All I was trying to do was try to get to the bottom the best I could, trying to put the puzzle together,” Wichita County Commissioner Pct. 2 Mickey Fincannon said.
On February 13, County Commissioner Fincannon and new County Clerk Annette Stanley found a large box with about 1,310 ballots, 10 for applications for limited ballots, 53 provisional ballots, and 13 miscellaneous items. The ballots accounted for totaled 4,248, with the original votes that were sent being 4,258.
After holding the investigation, Judge Jim Johnson is confident that no crime was committed.
“I am confident. I don’t think there was any willful intent or any desire, or even I don’t think the results were wrongly decided but I do think it highlighted the importance of being able to retain your records. Doing it well so you can go back if there are questions and showcase your work,” Johnson said.
Fincannon said since the election, changes have already been made to prevent this from happening again.
“We have been able to identify lots of places, items that can fail, that have failed here at the county before. Luckily, we have new voting equipment now, we have a new county clerk in place and we are really resetting the way we do everything. So the checks and balances for the election staff will be a lot different than what it was in the past. And it should be positive for voters,” Fincannon said.
A complaint was turned in to the sheriff who then turned it over to the Secretary of State. County Clerk Anette Stanley said the Secretary of State will be coming in and training the election staff as if they were first new-time employees.
“We are going to start from ground zero and work our way up. They are going to teach us how to use our products, as far as vendors and the State is going to come to teach us to see, what we are supposed to retain, how we are supposed to retain it, and what steps we are supposed to take for that,” Stanley said.
In regard to government business, Judge Johnson believes employees should strive for excellence, efficiency, and transparency, three elements the commissioners court plans on executing come elections this year.
That training for the election staff is set to happen in the coming months.