Candidate Files Complaint Against Starr Co. Elections

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RIO GRANDE CITY – An election complaint is now filed with the state. It comes from a woman in Starr County who was on the ballot and lost this past Tuesday. Her failed run for office is not what she's upset about.

Clarissa Gonzalez ran for a position she didn't win. She says her opponent won fair and square. She has concerns about the election.

Gonzalez said, "The voters of Starr County have lost a little bit of faith in the electoral process because they see all these things happening."

The complaints are focused in Roma. Gonzalez cast her ballot Feb. 21. She requested the list of people who voted that day.

She said, "When I finally got the results and I'm looking for my name, my name was not on there."

Starr County Elections Administrator John Lee Rodriguez spoke to us off-camera. He tells us Gonzalez's vote was counted. He reminds people to sign after submitting their ballot. Gonzalez did not. That's why her name didn't make it on the list.

When asked about his staff asking for the signature, Rodriguez tells us they were under-staff that day. Gonzalez and the presiding judge signed affidavits or sworn statements about the incident.

Another problem surfaced the following week when a ballot box filled up. Ballots could not be automatically fed into the box. So, it was opened.

"At any time, people can turn around and things can happen. That's why the seals are supposed to be there," said Gonzalez.

She believes it was hours before the box was closed, again. Rodriguez says it was open less than half an hour. It was a precursor to Election Day.

"One of the ballots got jammed into the machine," said Gonzalez.

A voting machine was opened again and this time it needed to be fixed. Rodriguez admits the feeder was faulty.

Gonzalez said, "A lot of these machines are so old that it's a disservice to the community."

CHANNEL 5 NEWS checked and the machines were brought in 12 years ago.

The county is working to get a new system in place. It will include paper and touchscreen options. Rodriguez tells us the goal is to get the new system in time for the general election in November.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS also heard from a voter who said her ballot was pre-filled. She tells us a bubble was filled out with a pencil when she got her ballot.

"I wasn't going to choose that candidate. If I hadn't looked, if it would've been a candidate I wasn't interested in, I probably would've left that ballot left marked."

She filed a police report. The Elections Administrator said ballots were sent sealed and later opened by the presiding judge.

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