City of Dallas Refuses to Pay Dallas County Election Costs – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
After the Dallas City Council learned Wednesday that the problems with the polling stations on May 1 were worse than previously thought, it refused to pay the additional costs Dallas County asked for a runoff election in June.
It turns out that ten polling stations opened late for the May 1st city elections, more than the six previously known. One of these ten opened at 7 a.m. more than four hours after the elections began.
The city of Dallas hires Dallas County to conduct city elections.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson led the drive to deny the county’s new payment request.
“In an election with a low turnout like this, where some of them are decided by a few dozen votes, it should be outrageous. We pay for it, ”said Johnson.
The mayor had approved District 7 candidate Donald Parish Junior, who finished third on May 1 with just 25 votes, missing the opportunity for the June runoff election.
The runoff election will include runner-up candidate Kevin Felder, former district councilor, and incumbent Adam Bazaldua.
Several of the late-opening polling stations were in District 7.
It’s hard to know if the late openings affected the election result, but Bazaldua said some voters told him they were turned away from polling stations that didn’t open on time.
“Voters were told they couldn’t vote. I think that’s problematic, ”said Bazaldua.
Since 2019, Dallas County has operated polling stations where people can vote at any polling station, not just the traditional polling station in their home district.
Dallas County’s new election administrator Michael Scarpello agreed that more election worker training and better preparation is needed.
“We have plans to improve or completely revamp our website, expand our social media and expand our reach for our community,” said Scarpello.
Speaking to the city council on Wednesday, Scarpello went through various issues to explain why each of the ten polling stations opened late.
- The polling station at Ronald McNair Elementary School opened at 9:15 am after problems with equipment.
- The YMCA polling station in Park South opened at 10:45 am after equipment problems.
- At Owenwood Farms, Scarpello said there was no vote until 8:15 a.m. but the polling station could have been available earlier.
- The polling station at Booker T. Washington High School opened at 9:30 a.m. as pollers were initially unable to get into the building.
- At Comstock Middle School, the polling station was too far from the electrical outlets, so extra power cords had to be found. The polling station opened at 10:30 a.m.
- Equipment problems were reported at Skyline High School, but Scarpello wasn’t sure when the polling station actually opened.
- At Richard Lagow Elementary School, election workers lost the keys needed to access the election materials. Replacement keys were delivered and the polling station opened at 7:58 a.m.
- There were problems opening doors at Urban Park Elementary School. The polling station opened at 10:07 a.m.
- The Northwood Hills Elementary School polling station was the newest, opening at 11:15 am after having had trouble finding the keys.
- The Bradfield Elementary School polling station opened at 9:30 am after equipment difficulties.
Scarpello said a county website map to provide real-time polling day information about open polling stations failed on May 1st.
City council member Cara Mendelsohn complained that some polling stations are very close to each other. She said the equipment and staff that are so close together at locations in her North Dallas district could have been helpful in solving the problems that are primarily encountered at locations in southern Dallas.
“It is an abuse of our tax dollars to have polling stations across the street,” said Mendelsohn. “It’s just such a waste of money.”
Scarpello said Dallas County was required to keep all polling stations that existed before the move to polling centers in 2019, and some could be eliminated before the next big election.
“These places were chosen years ago before me,” said Scarpello.
According to state law, it is the electoral judges at each location who determine the occupation of the polling stations.
“In most of the states where you are the electoral administrator, you usually put people where the need is greatest. I don’t have that power here, ”said Scarpello.
The statements did not reassure Mayor Johnson, who is also a former state official.
“I think Dallas County should compare us, just to be honest. All you should do is say, “Our bad, we’re sorry we made your first round choice so bad.” And I am not helping us pay more money for a tremendous failure to do your job on this case, ”Johnson said.
The city council’s vote was 11 to 3 against the payment of the additional district money.
The motion was an increase of $ 1,475,551.53 from $ 1,650,190.14 to a total of $ 3,125,741.67 for the City of Dallas’ share in the June 5 joint runoff.
The Dallas City Secretary said she would continue negotiating with Dallas County.