Jacque Callanen, who has been Bexar County’s elections administrator since 2005, confirmed Wednesday that this was her last presidential election as the head of the Elections Department. While she doesn’t know how many more years she’ll remain in her job, Callanen plans on leaving before the 2024 presidential election.
“That will make my family happy,” she said with a laugh.
Callanen has worked in elections in some capacity since 1981 and has been with the county for more than two decades. She and her staff were still processing votes the day after Election Day, she told reporters at a Wednesday news conference. The Bexar County Elections Department has about “two buckets” of mail-in votes that were delivered Wednesday morning by the postal service, Callanen said.
She estimated that more than 1,000 absentee ballots were received the day after the election and that those ballots will be counted Thursday afternoon. The deadline for absentee ballots to be received by the Elections Department in order to be counted is 5 p.m. Wednesday. Ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3, Election Day.
Callanen emphasized that final vote counts would not be available by Wednesday, and that members of the military have until Monday for their votes to reach the Elections Department.
“[The mail-in ballots] are being processed,” she said. “When we get them, staff has to check through those one by one to make sure they were postmarked by [Tuesday]. The law says they have to be postmarked or we can’t open them.”
Though elections officials are preparing to wrap up the November election, they won’t have too much time for a break, Callanen said. Two contests for trustees seats on the Alamo Community Colleges District board still have runoff elections scheduled for Dec. 12.
Despite worries of potential civil unrest and confrontation at polling places on Election Day, Callanen said that the day went smoothly with only a few calls to the sheriff’s office for situations where voters refused to take off campaign-related clothing items at a polling place or cars drove near polling places playing loud music or honking horns. State law requires all campaign material to be more than 100 feet away from a polling place and sound amplification devices used for electioneering must remain more than 1,000 feet away.
Callanen also said she hopes to have her election workers tested for the novel coronavirus soon. The standard procedure is to wait seven days after potential exposure before testing, she said.
“We looked into [testing workers] in July, when the [case] numbers were much higher,” she said. “What the standard recommendation was, was to wait seven days. … So, we have the request in.”
Callanen said she was pleased to see record-high turnout in Bexar County with early votes, Election Day results, and most absentee ballots tallied. Ultimately, 84,246 people cast ballots in person on Election Day, well under Callanen’s original prediction of 175,000. She likened it to planning a party when organizers estimate a certain number will attend but fewer than expected come.
“If it doesn’t happen you can be disappointed, but you take that into consideration for the next election [of similar size],” Callanen said.