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A Close Race For Midland ISD’s School Board Just Got More Complicated After Voters Were Given The Wrong Ballots

(Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

By Mitch Borden

Would-be voters in a tight school board race in Midland were given incorrect ballots on Election Day and were unable to vote, throwing the results of a close election into question.

Voters who should have been able to cast ballots in the race for the District 1 seat on Midland Independent School District Board of Trustees were given the wrong ballots. Midland County’s Election Administrator Carolyn Graves confirmed the error on Thursday to Marfa Public Radio.  The three-way race for the District 1 seat was so tight that it will be decided in a runoff election. 

But it’s unclear which candidate will face-off against incumbent James Fuller. Currently, only eight votes separate the two candidates who could qualify for second place in the runoff.

Updated: Nov. 6, 11:00 am

As it stands, Michael Booker has the narrow lead over Matt Reyes Galindo, meaning Booker would move on to the runoff against Fuller. The school board incumbent was unable to receive over 50% of the vote, triggering the need for a runoff. 

Tuesday night’s voting errors were first exposed by CBS7, who reported some residents on the 1400 block of Midland's Chestnut Avenue—which is near the border of Midland ISD’s District 1—were given ballots that excluded them from the election.

“Our vote, we feel like, was kind of taken away,” Lynn Rogers told CBS7.

Rogers was one of the voters who received the wrong ballot. 

“We researched and looked at District 1 candidates and really weighed and made a decision, and then we didn’t even get to choose.”

In a statement put out Thursday afternoon, Graves said the error resulted in 31 voters receiving an incorrect ballot and didn’t affect other races. The source of the problem, wrote Graves, was that the elections office didn’t have up-to-date district boundaries for Midland ISD’s school board. 

“In 2011, MISD went through a redistricting process as a result of the 2010 census,” the statement read. “Some of the boundary changes” weren’t input into the Midland County elections office system, wrote Graves. 

It’s unclear why the update to the election's office map never occurred and whether Midland ISD or Midland

News of the mishandled election comes almost a year after a notorious $569 million school bond election where hundreds of ballots went missing due to errors made at Midland County’s elections office. 

At this time, it is unclear how the incorrect ballots will affect the final outcome of the school board race.* Graves stated that the Midland Elections Office is working to "rectify" this mistake so District 1 residents will be able to participate in elections in the future.

*Editors Note: In a previous version of this article, it was incorrectly stated that voters given the wrong ballots could adjust their votes in the Midland ISD District 1 school board election.

The Midland Elections Office later clarified that provisional ballots can be "cured" up until Monday, Nov. 9 at 5 pm. The 31 voters the elections office says were given the wrong ballots will not be able to retroactively cast a vote in the Midland ISD District 1 school board race.

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