(CBSDFW.COM) – In an urgent court hearing Wednesday, Tarrant County’s elections administrator asked a judge to allow his office more time to count thousands of defective mail-in ballots.
The request followed questions about state elections code, requiring precincts to count and return materials to an elections office within 24 hours after polls close.
Elections administrator Heider Garcia explained in a court filing that he disagrees mail-ballots are precinct records that would fall under the time requirement.
Emails attached to the filing from the Secretary of State’s office, however, show they recommended the county obtain the court order to keep counting beyond the 24-hour time limit.
The county revealed last week it had discovered a problem with some mail-in ballots that scanning machines could not read. Members of the early voting Ballot Board are having to replicate the ballots. Members of at least two different political parties confirm the choices before the new ballot is accepted and counted.
Garcia explained in the hearing that 15 stations for the work are set up in the county elections office, and they were clearing as many as 50 ballots an hour. His most recent estimate was as many as 18,000 ballots total could be affected by the problem. As of Tuesday night, around 11,000 ballots still needed to be remade.
There are some races on the ballot in the county, including constable, school board and city council positions that were separated by just a few hundred votes.
The Democrat, Libertarian and Republican parties were all represented in the court hearing Wednesday. There was no limitation on how much time the county will have for the count, although elections offices are required to have all votes official by Nov. 17.