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Midland ISD Certifies $569 Million Bond Election, But A Challenge Is On The Horizon

By Mitch Borden

The recount of Midland Independent School District's $569 million bond was unanimously certified by its board of trustees Tuesday, but there is still a question concerning a discrepancy discovered between the total votes hand-counted during the recount and the votes electronically tallied weeks earlier on Election Day.

Since it was discovered there were hundreds of votes possibly missing or miscounted — Midland County officials say they’ve been investigating the matter.

So far, the county doesn’t know whether a technical problem with its new voting machines or human error caused the 820-vote difference between the voting tally from Election Day and the one from the recount. 

“We have to fix this," said Russell Malm, Midland County’s attorney. "We have to have the public confident in the results of elections — so [this situation is] a problem.”

Shortly after the Permian school district certified the election, the political action committee Better Bond for Midland announced it would look into the results with the conservative activist group Direct Action Texas. The PAC has also retained a lawyer specializing in election cases and intends to contest the election.  

"The election has been fraught in its execution and MISD trustees rushed today to accept questionable results," Direct Action Texas executive director Daniel A. Greer wrote in a press release. "The outcome of this election is not in any way shape or form final. Suggestions of finality are premature."

The $569-million bond is the largest bond Midland ISD has ever asked for and if the recount results stand, it will go towards expanding the school district’s capacity by building two new high schools and renovating a third campus. 

It's unclear how the new challenge to the bond election will play out, but the entire debacle — which began with a clerical mistake failing to include over 500 mail-in ballots and continued with the botched release of updated election results — has left Midland voters uneasy.

Matt Galindo, a father of three and a voter, says this situation has him worried about upcoming elections, especially in 2020.

“We have so many things to vote for," Galindo said. "We are voting for our president we’re voting for other important things. Can we trust the process? And I hope we can, I really do hope that we can, but it’s scary. It really is.”

The county has pledged to be transparent as it investigates the election. So far it’s been in contact with the Texas Secretary of State and the manufacturer of the region’s voting machines.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.