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Election integrity seminar held at library

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  • Election integrity seminar held at library
    Director Stacie Matson spoke about election integrity and answered questions from the floor during her presentation. BULLETIN PHOTO/Tracy Thayer

Stacie Matson, Director for the Southern Region of the Texas GOP Election Integrity unit of spoke at the Bandera Library on Monday, June 27.

Though the crowd was small, county notables, Gwenda Tschirhart, Chief Deputy of Bandera County Elections, and Conrad “Butch” Striegl, Bandera GOP Chairman, were in attendance.

Mrs. Matson gave a slide show presentation and answered questions about the election process. While she acknowledged that Bandera County’s election procedures were extremely well run and clean, she gave many examples of large counties participating in the “county wide” election system she found disturbing.

By adopting the “county wide” system, voters can vote in any precinct in that county. It is an aid to voters who may live on one side of a large county like Dallas but can vote in a precinct close to their work location.

According to Matson, this becomes problematic when the whole county’s voter roles are accessible to all precincts electronically. This makes the county vulnerable to election errors and fraud.

The Election Integrity Unit is focused on discovering the vulnerabilities of the voting process and making legislative recommendations to plug those holes.

Butch Striegl commented that “at the end of the day, it all boils down to training; there is all kinds of stuff (training) out there.”

Striegl admitted he was concerned about election integrity in other counties but admitted, “All I can really worry about is Bandera County.”

The most vulnerable time for election errors is the time between the end of early voting and the actual election day. Tschirhart detailed the procedures her office takes to make sure the votes are recorded accurately and that tabulations justify down to the last vote. She admitted Bandera County has only 17, 000 registered voters, while some single precincts in urban areas have that many voters.

“What are we going to do right now to fix it,” commented Striegl.

Matchson concurred, “Our main focus is redoing issues in real time.”

If poll watchers find a problem and the election judge does not address it, then they can call the hotline number provided through to report the issue. Someone with the Election Integrity will call the county election administrator who can then contact that precinct judge.

Matson reminded the participants that the “idea is to solve the problem.” Matson also touted the training available through for election workers.

The top two priorities Matson listed were to “have a good working relationship with the county chair,” and “have a good working relationship with the other party.”

She inferred election integrity was really a bipartisan matter of importance to both sides of the political spectrum.

She said citizens must be “forward facing; not be angry looking back but be forward facing” and ready to address any problems through training, legislation or litigation.