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County’s Election Bills Surge After Switch to Hand Counting Method

Gillespie County's Hand Count Experiment Leads to Ballooning Election Costs

A controversial hand count of Republican primary election ballots in Gillespie County, Texas, is projected to cost taxpayers over $27,000 in wages alone, according to public records obtained by Votebeat.

This amount is more than double the total wages paid for the 2020 Republican primary election. The hand count, which employed 350 people, is part of a growing trend that could increase election costs statewide. Despite errors and additional costs, proponents argue that hand counting increases election integrity and confidence.

Election Expenses Skyrocket in Gillespie County After Hand Count Decision

The costs are likely to rise as the county prepares for a runoff election later this month. Moreover, the initial costs already exceed the annual expenditure on electronic tabulating equipment, which can be used across multiple elections.

Gillespie County spent $160,968 on voting equipment in 2021, with a 15-year life expectancy, and $9,120 annually on licensing fees and technical support.

The Texas Secretary of State’s Office will reimburse Gillespie Republicans and other local parties for primary and runoff election expenses. However, experts warn that if primary election costs increase beyond the allocated amount due to hand counting, the state might not have enough funds to reimburse all expenses.

Critics argue that the additional costs associated with full hand counts are unnecessary and fiscally irresponsible, particularly when elections in Texas are already chronically underfunded.

They suggest that the funding could be better utilized for election staff, infrastructure, and public outreach. Despite errors and costs, proponents of hand counting continue to advocate for the method, citing unsupported concerns about the accuracy of voting machines.

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