A wish for faster election reporting

For the better part of three hours Saturday, most of us who work in the News-Dispatch newsroom sat around and twiddled our thumbs. 

Occasionally, those thumbs were spent rapidly typing on phone keyboards, trying to text our contacts for the information we so desperately desired. 

What we had all been waiting for, what we had planned to receive in moderate updates Saturday, took some time to develop. 

If you listened closely Saturday, one could have heard the plethora of exasperated sighs from reporters, who like many of you in the county, waited for officials to post election information on the county’s website. 

And, like most of you, we were a bit disappointed at the slow response from the county to make election results public. For the record, Hays County officials’ first post online for election results came at 9:30 p.m. It was a full two hours after polls had already closed for the night. 

By that time, however, most other counties and entities in Central Texas had already made, at the very least, early voting results public. 

It was troublesome to see how Hays County, which has been under fire for its elections process, continues to struggle. 

All of this could have been avoided if Hays County, as they had advertised, placed early voting information on its website at immediately after the 7 p.m. polling closure.

The unfortunate part here is this wasn’t just some low-key May election that had no bearing on taxpayers pocketbooks. 

Dripping Springs ISD had a $132 million bond that was to be decided. Wimberley had a $40-plus million bond measure also on the ballot. 

Emergency Service Districts No. 1 and 6 both had sales tax elections for voters to decide on. 

No one really knew what the outcome was until very late that night.

There’s something to be said about getting it right and making sure all the votes are not only counted, but are also accurate. 

Jennifer Anderson, Hays County Elections Administrator, said there were no election issues May 5. She said the county had “several elections to tabulate” and that it took “ a little longer” to tabulate early voting results.

But after the snafu in the 2016 election, one has to believe Hays County should be working to better prepare for days like Saturday. 

With the March primaries going fairly smoothly, it’s puzzling how the county had some issues getting results out in a timely manner.

The worry is if this kind of issue exists in a May election, what could be the end result when the all-important November mid-term elections come up in a few months? 

Quite frankly, Hays County residents should expect better when it comes to elections. Residents should ask their officials to strive to get information out there as soon as possible, and to the best of their ability. 

For the media to push school district and city officials for information which Hays County itself controls shouldn’t be the case. 

Let’s improve this process. Let’s figure out a way to make Hays County elections go a little smoother. 

After all, our taxpayer dollars are paying for it. 

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