County investigates double voting
Seven people voted twice in the March 4 primary races and information about them has been turned over to the Orange County district attorney’s office, Election Administrator Tina Leverette told Commissioners Court Monday.
Of those seven, only two voted twice in the same primary race, Leverette said. Most of the people voting twice were elderly and likely confused about the voting set-up. Five of the people voted once in the Democratic primary and then again in the Republican primary, whereas voters in primary elections are required to vote in only one party’s election.
Leverette also said some voters were probably confused by a message being sent out by the Hillary Clinton for President campaign about voting twice in the primary. What has become known as the “Texas Two-Step” involved Democratic voters in the presidential race only, being able to cast a ballot at the polls, and then vote again as a delegate at a party precinct caucus.
Leverette passed on the information after Jerry Wilson of Precinct 3 complained about double voting. Wilson, who ran as a Republican for county commissioner in 1996, has an election-voter data business in which he sells information to candidates.
He said he found 36 to 37 people who had voted twice in the March primary. He said he finds the double voting often but “I never have been able to get anyone to prosecute.”
Leverette said she reviewed records and found seven people who had voted twice.
Only two of them were on Wilson’s list, plus another five more he had not listed.
Orange County Republican Chair Trudy Pellerin said a new reporting system on voters by the Texas Secretary of State’s office makes it impossible for the individual parties to know whether a person has voted in the other party’s primary. She said local reports on the voting were better than the state system.
She told commissioners that she and County Democratic Party Chair Mark Carter will likely file a complaint together about the reporting system.
Voters in a primary race usually have their voter registration cards stamped with the name of the party in which they voted. However, a voter may request not to have his or her card stamped. In that case, the voter could go from one party primary to the other one and vote in each.
In other business, county social services director Jennifer Poole reported that the county’s contract with Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital Orange expired Saturday, March 22. The 20-year contract had the hospital providing indigent health care to the county in exchange for buying the former Orange Memorial Hospital. Now, the county will directly pay for indigent health care.
Mosquito control director Patrick Beebe said he is advertising for a pilot-mechanic to begin the county’s aerial spraying program against mosquitoes. Last year, the county used a federal-state health grant to buy a single-engine airplane to begin the program.
The hangar for the plane is nearly completed.
Beebe said he will discuss with the applicants for the job on whether to make the pilot-mechanic a contract worker or a full-time county employee.
Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose said he knows an experienced mosquito control pilot who will be retiring and would be interested in the job as a contractor
Beebe also said he is working on county aerial maps for the spraying program. The maps will have to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.