Montgomery County, TX – If the recent November General Election has taught us anything, it is that no election actually ends on Election Day. In the days following an election, absentee and mail-in ballots flood local elections offices, post-election audits are performed, and necessary or requested recounts are conducted. This was not the case, however, in one Texas county, and Montgomery County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF-Montgomery) is sounding the alarm.
Montgomery County, Texas recently acquired a new voting system, the Hart InterCivic Verity Duo, which combines touchscreen voting with an integrated thermal printer. The Magnolia Independent School District (MISD), a school district within Montgomery County, contracted with the county to use these new machines in the election of their school bond propositions. One of the bond propositions, Proposition A, which would allocate $228 million of tax payer funds towards “addressing the growth” of the district, won by 938 votes. In an election that saw 26,000 votes cast, this was a narrow margin. According to the Texas Election Code, this narrow margin qualifies the election for a hand recount, which presented an opportunity for the community to not only have the ballots recounted, but to audit the new voting machines as well.
Cindy Gaskill, a local election integrity advocate, led the effort in initiating a ballot recount by gathering petition signatures and all legally required paperwork from local citizens. The Texas Election Code requires compensation for the staff required to conduct the recount, and an estimate of $60 was provided for the cost of completion. In addition, a November 21, 2022 deadline for the signed petition and deposit was set by the MISD School Board. When Ms. Gaskill arrived at the Elections Department days before the deadline with all the required paperwork and the full deposit amount, she was informed that the deposit amount was actually $2,100 – not the original amount provided of $60. Two days later, through determined citizen efforts, the funds for this new deposit amount were raised.
In what can only be described as an astounding and baffling response, and despite the extensive and diligent efforts of Ms. Gaskill and community members to initiate a ballot recount, Chris Hinkelman, the Administrative Assistant to the MISD Superintendent, refused to accept any paperwork, nor the deposit required to initiate the recount. Ms. Hinkelman provided an explanation stating “They haven’t told me anything and neither has my attorney.”
This response was not only an attempt to deny Montgomery County citizens the right of having a legal ballot recount performed, but it is also a blatant violation of Texas Statutes. CCDF-Montgomery is committed to oversight and accountability of all elected and appointed officials, as well as election integrity within their county and expect county leaders to abide by state laws and respect the will of “We the People.”
Click to read Montgomery Press Release