Election errors are few but alarming
By Joe Southern
When Leon Anhaiser of Sugar Land went to vote Friday at the polling location in the library on Eldridge Road, he handed the election judge his driver’s license only to be informed that he had already voted two days earlier at another location.
“They ran my card through the reader and they told me I already voted,” he said. “They said I voted in the Richmond location. I said, ‘no, I haven’t voted at all.’”
He was directed to go to the Fort Bend County Elections Office in Rosenberg where he was allowed to cast a provisional ballot.
“His vote will count,” said John Oldham, the county’s election official.
Oldham said a mistake was made when someone with a different name but a similar address came to vote.
“The people in Rosenberg made a mistake and checked in somebody else whose name was not the same but the address was similar,” Oldham said.
He said the election judge printed Anhaiser’s sticker and had the voter sign it. Neither paid attention to the name on the label.
Oldham said there have been a few mistakes during early voting which did not surprise him given the high volume of people who have turned out to cast their votes. He said last week alone there were six to eight mistakes that he knew of, which he said was a low number considering that as of 3 p.m. Friday 86,601 people had voted in Fort Bend County.
“And that does not count the provisional ballots and limited ballots,” he said.
He said the county has 140,000 more registered voters than it did during the last presidential election.
“We have never seen this kind of volume before,” he said.
Oldham said the biggest issue for voters has been long lines. He said the wait varies at different locations. For example, he said 1,400 people voted Friday in Cinco Ranch but only 39 had at the Beasley City Hall.
Despite the low number of errors, it can still be unsettling in a situation like Anhaiser’s. He said he didn’t know if it was voter fraud or if someone had stolen his identity.
“It kind of bothers me because if someone else has a copy of my driver’s license and masquerading as me, there could be a lot of ramifications,” he said.
Even though he was able to vote, Anhaiser still had to spend several hours, drive half way across the county and fill out three different forms. He said it was the first time he has had a problem trying to vote.
“The only place I’ve ever voted in my life is in Sugar Land and I’ve been voting since I was 21,” he said.