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Comal County investigates scope of Election Day tech issues

Election workers heard from three voters who noticed local races were missing but others may not have known their ballots were incomplete.

COMAL COUNTY, Texas — Comal County Elections Officials are reviewing voter logs to see how many people could have been impacted by a technical issue at the polls on Tuesday.

The glitch impacted ballots cast on Election Day after poll pads were rebooted. Election workers heard from three voters who noticed local races were missing but others may not have known their ballots were incomplete.

RELATED: Election Day glitches led to reports of absence of races and propositions on some ballots, Comal Co. says

“It's very possible that they didn't realize that it wasn't on there,” said Comal County Clerk, Bobbie Koepp. “We're checking each one up against what could have voted versus what voted.”

Koepp says the company that makes the poll pads, where the issue seems to have originated, should have notified her sooner and should take some responsibility.

“It's part of my duties to make sure that everybody gets what they're supposed to get when they come to vote and I do take responsibility for that,” said Koepp. “But in my defense, I honestly feel that [KnowInk] needs to make it right. They need to make a statement and need to tell everybody what happened.”

Koepp says three races were left off ballots for voters in certain precincts: the New Braunfels ISD school board elections for districts 2 and 4, and the Lake Dunlap propositions.

Props A, B & C passed with roughly 90% of the vote but the school board races were much tighter.

As it stands, Matthew Sargent, the incumbent for district 4, lost re-election to John Tucker by 251 votes.

In district 2, Nancy York claimed victory over incumbent Michael Calta by 12 votes. District 2 includes part of Guadalupe County. Election officials there confirmed polling sites had no issues.

Koepp believes it’s up to the candidates to request a do-over. She expects to release more details on the scope of the issue later this week.

“We're going to do everything diligently in our power to… try to figure out exactly how many votes were cast that didn't get the opportunity to vote the way they needed to,” said Koepp.

Impacted precincts include 301, 302, 303 and 201 for the NBISD district 4 race, precinct 302 for the NBISD district 2 race and precincts 302 and 204 for the Lake Dunlap propositions.

Officials say early voting and mail-in ballots were not affected.

KENS 5 reached out to KnowInk for a statement on the matter. Once a reply is received, the comment will be posted to this article.

This is the full statement from Comal County: 

Comal County Poll Pads went down Tuesday morning.

KnowInk, the company that makes the poll pads, experienced technical issues statewide and worked to restore service quickly.

Poll pads are used to check in voters. Instead of signing electronically while the system was down, Comal County elections workers used a manual system to qualify voters. The issue did not affect voting machines, and voting was never disrupted.

Our Elections department was later informed by KnowInk, that when the poll pads were restarted, not all ballot styles were appropriately reloaded for voters. The ballots loaded did not include elections that Comal County was contracted to run, including the NBISD Board Member races.

The Comal County Elections Department received three reports of races not being included on a ballot.

Two reports were about the NBISD School Board District 4 race and one report was about the Lake Dunlap Proposition not appearing on a ballot.

There were no other reports of problem ballots.

Early voting was not affected. Ballots by mail were not affected. This affected only in-person voting on Election Day, specific to those voting precincts.

“There is a fail-safe on every voting machine. Before a voter casts a ballot, the voter is asked to review it. The voting machine prompts the voter to review his or her selections and make changes before pressing the Cast Ballot button. It gives the voter a second prompt, asking him or her to confirm casting the ballot as is, because no changes can be made. Once you press the button to cast your ballot, there is no reversing it,” said County Clerk Bobbie Koepp. “If this had been brought to our attention before the vote was submitted, we could have canceled out the vote and reviewed the problem. We weren’t aware of the problem until close to 5pm and after votes had already been cast.”

Comal County reported a record number of voters for the 2020 General Election with 76% of the County’s 116,000 registered voters participating. 78,238 voters cast their ballots during Early Vote or by Mail-in ballot. Another 8,380 people voted in person on Election Day.