Audit finds 584 absentee ballots were not recorded in 2020 election in Smith County

Current elections administrator on previous administration and staff: “It’s like they didn’t care’
Audit finds 584 absentee ballots were not recorded in 2020 election in Smith County
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 4:34 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 7:12 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A review of the 2020 General Election in Smith County reveals 584 absentee ballots were not counted. On Tuesday, the Smith County Commissioners Court heard from Grassroots America: We The People PAC, which launched the audit along with Texas Voter Verification.

“Smith County has a slogan of striving for excellence. This was not excellent,” said JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots America: We The People.

Speaking before the court, Fleming said the review found “numerous election integrity issues” under the county’s previous elections administrator. While Fleming’s group is a constitutional conservative organization, she said the audit was non-partisan and did not consider voters’ political affiliations.

Among the most notable issues found in their review:

  • Voters list errors and incorrect ballots due to erroneous GIS coding for some voters
  • Absentee ballot handling and storage problems
  • Missing control logs
  • “Sloppy” election record filing and storage problems
  • Issues raised in post-election voters canvassing
  • Vote and voter count discrepancies

The review focused on absentee records, which were made available to their team. In-person records were not available, according to Fleming.

Among the things they found: five different totals for absentee ballots.

The audit revealed varying absentee ballot counts.
The audit revealed varying absentee ballot counts.(KLTV)

“That wide range of vote totals would cause a reasonable person to ask a simple question,” Fleming said. “Why?”

Further analysis revealed there were 584 more absentee voters than ballots accounted for. The report states approximately 6.6% of all absentee voters were likely disenfranchised.

“That should appall and even make everyone in this room angry,” Fleming said.

The audit found there were 584 more absentee voters than ballots.
The audit found there were 584 more absentee voters than ballots.(KLTV)

The audit shows seven Smith County races were within the 584-vote margin of error. They include council races in Overton and Tyler and propositional elections in Lindale and Troup.

Elections within the 584-vote margin of error in Smith County.
Elections within the 584-vote margin of error in Smith County.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

The report also reveals the discovery of four “questionable” manual ballot envelopes, which the group believes were processed and fraudulently counted.

In addition to the report, the PAC also aimed to show the human impact through testimonials from people like Donna Ziober, whose late husband filled out an absentee ballot from a nursing home.

“I went inside the post office,” she said. “I dropped it in the slot and said a prayer. I said ‘oh, please get there.’”

Ziober said voter records did not reflect her husband’s vote.

“When I left his room that day, he said, ‘oh, honey, please make my vote count.’ It didn’t count.”

Since 2020, Smith County has hired Michelle Allcon as elections administrator. While addressing the court on Tuesday morning, Allcon said changes had already been made to correct the previous administration’s problems before this review was conducted.

“The underlying issue with what we saw really appeared to be a lack of interest on the part of the staff,” Allcon said. “It’s like they didn’t care.”

Allcon said election workers employed during the 2020 election are no longer with her office. She also expressed intent to request two additional employees for her office.

“If there was fraud and disenfranchisement, then you should know immediately,” Allcon said. “And if there wasn’t, the appearance of the same is just as bad to an election and the belief on the voter’s competence of the election and of the county. That’s just as bad of a result.”

A similar audit is expected to be conducted for the 2022 November election to see if things have improved.

“Someone said earlier that this is not a partisan issue. I think they’re right,” said John Moore, Pct. 2 commissioner. “This is one of the few things that’s not a partisan issue. We all want and have to have our votes counted.”