Days before the Nov. 03 presidential election, more problems emerge as some mail-in ballots are unreadable by scanning machines, increasing fears of election uncertainty.
Ballot-scanning machines in Tarrant County, Texas, are facing severe problems this week. They can't read mail-in ballots - causing panic among local officials who are running election workers around the clock to replicate certain ballots for a recount, reported CBS DFW.
These problems have developed as Texas, a traditionally Republican state, is now considered a "toss-up" between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
So far, Tarrant County ballot-scanning machines have rejected about one-third of mail-in ballots, or about 22,000.
County elections administrator Heider Garcia addressed this issue Tuesday night to county commissioners. Garcia said bar codes on some ballots are illegible by machines causing them to be automatically rejected.
Tarrant County normally uses in-house ballot printing - but the virus pandemic forced local officials earlier this year to outsource ballots from Runbeck Election Services in Phoenix, Arizona, due to the expectations of social distancing would keep people at home and vote via mail.
For readers who are interested in how the "ballot replication" process works. CBS DFW explains:
"Ballot replication is done yearly, Garcia said, but not at this volume. The process usually involves ballot board members, from more than one political party, manually filling out a new ballot that matches the one that was damaged or unreadable.
"Because of the volume of work, Garcia said in this case an employee will likely use an electronic machine to replicate the ballot. Ballot board members will then compare a print out of those choices, to the original ballot that was sent in, to verify the choices match."
In response to the ballot-machine debacle, Runbeck Elections Services released this statement:
"We were concerned to learn that some Tarrant County ballots are not able to be scanned properly by Hart Intercivic tabulation machines, as Runbeck Election Services is a certified ballot printer for Hart Intercivic. This election year alone we have printed nearly 100 million ballots, many of which have been the same type of ballot used in Tarrant County, without experiencing any scanning issues. Runbeck Election Services is working with Tarrant County elections officials to investigate if the problem is printing-related or scanning-related. Once the investigation is complete, we will offer our support to all partners and vendors involved to determine the appropriate next steps to ensure that all ballots are properly tabulated."
Here's CBS DFW's video reporting of the ballot-machine debacle in Tarrant.
As counties and states scramble with processing mail-in ballots, there will be unexpected errors, such as the one in Texas. Counting tens of millions of mail-in ballots by election night seems complicated to meet that deadline.
Election uncertainty is the consensus among the latest Bank of America Fund Manager Survey, where 74% of respondents believe that a contested election is possible.
What this all means is that mail-in voting has opened up a can of worms that will allow either political party to easily contest election results