Northeast Tarrant

Paper jam in ballot scanner delays vote count in this Texas city

Canopies and political signs filled the parking lot across from the Euless library during the local election on Saturday.
Canopies and political signs filled the parking lot across from the Euless library during the local election on Saturday. Special to the Star-Telegram

A paper jam in a ballot scanner at the Mary Lib Saleh Public Library led to delays in reporting vote totals in Saturday’s Euless City Council races.

After the scanner malfunction, poll workers were told to continue using paper ballots, Tarrant County elections administrator Heider Garcia said. Twelve people voted after that.

But the scanned ballots were not separated from those that were not scanned when they were placed in the ballot box. A flap divides the box into two compartments.

“I am investigating to see how the ballots got mixed up in the ballot box,” he said. “We are just trying to see if there is anything we need to change in our training or if this is an isolated incident.”

Garcia said the ballots were scanned when the ballot box was brought to the elections office, resulting in new vote totals.

In the closely watched Place 6 race, Molly Maddux was ahead of her opponent Salman Bhojani by about 70 votes for much of the night. But Bhojani ended up winning by 37 votes after all of the ballots in the ballot box were scanned after 10:30 p.m., Garcia said.

The unofficial results showed that Bhojani received 2,119 or 50.44 percent of the votes while Maddux received 2,082 or 49.56 percent.

“This is a learning experience for everyone that your vote matters, especially in the smaller races,” Garcia said.

The race between Bhojani and Maddux grew heated during early voting when Republican state Rep. Jonathan Stickland posted on his Facebook page that Bhojani was a Muslim and a lifelong Democrat.

The two candidates also sparred over campaign finance reports with Bhojani questioning why Maddux accepted $15,000 from Stickland’s campaign. Maddux criticized Bhojani’s spending of campaign funds at restaurants. Bhojani said the money was spent on food for his volunteers.

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