El Campo city officials want to know how and why 260 voters received the wrong mail-in ballot last week, and they want answers from the Wharton County Office of Elections Administration.

They didn’t get them during Monday night’s council session despite asking Wharton County Elections Administrator Cindy Richter to appear. Richter didn’t show, prompting District 1 Council member Anisa Vasquez to call for a refund.

The elections official said she was at the office Monday night in the midst of prepping for early voting to start the next morning and was unable to attend. 

“I’m doing everything I can to make sure it is a safe, secure and correct election,” Richter said Tuesday. The election official added the city was presented with the ballots for proofing in September.

The El Campo Leader-News notified city officials about inaccurate mail-in ballots after receiving several phone calls from concerned voters on Oct. 5. Elderly and disabled registered voters had received a four-page ballot made up of one first page and three second pages that were completely missing pages three and four.

The elections department was already in the process of replacing those ballots when the Leader-News reached Richter Monday.

City staff later discovered that all mail-in voters received the option to vote for the unexpired District 1 Council seat and that Isaacson Municipal Utility District had been included on some municipal ballots.

“They are putting the city in a position we don’t need to be in,” said Vasquez who is unopposed in seeking the District 1 post.

City staff have notified the Texas Secretary of State’s Office as well as Richter’s office.

“My problem was 260 votes. That could swing a lot of things,” Councilwoman Gloria Harris said.

City state and county officials are set to meet Thursday on the issue.

“If it’s not the correct ballot, you don’t want to count that ballot. It’s going to create a farce,” Harris said.

All ballots appear to be correct now with early voting getting under way Tuesday. There are 5,840 registered voters in the city. Most are expected to vote in this election.

Council took no action on the issue other than to say they’d like Richter to appear at the upcoming Monday, Oct. 26 session.

“This is really a cluster,” Miller said.

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