This story has been updated.
Election day voters at 30 to 50 polling sites experienced some technical difficulties Tuesday morning, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said.
The technical difficulties involved printer problems with the county’s new voting machines, which require two printers – one to print a voter’s information label and one to print a ballot card for voters to insert into the electronic voting machine. This is the second election in which the county has used the new machines.
“This morning, [some election officials] plugged in printers into the wrong portal,” Callanen said. “We color code our equipment for our judges – yellow cord into yellow dot. But if they mix up the cords, they don’t work.”
By 9 a.m., those technical problems were resolved, Callanen said, and all 280 voting sites across Bexar County were open and accepting voters. More than 75,000 voters cast ballots by 4 p.m., Callanen said.
Callanen said she expected at least 100,000 people would cast ballots by the time polls close on Tuesday evening.
Copernicus Community Center on the far East Side had a power outage, though voters were still able to vote on battery-powered machines, Callanen said. The Elections Department has been in communication with the polling location since the outage was discovered earlier Tuesday morning and election technicians were available to troubleshoot, she said.
Power was restored to the voting site by 2 p.m., Callanen said.
Julisa and Lela Smith left the voting location at 11:40 a.m. after they said election officials had to reboot the system. They waited for about 20 minutes before deciding to leave and come back later.
“It was still a wait,” Julisa Smith said. “We were not able to vote.”
In cases of power outages, the electronic voting machines run on battery power, Callanen said. Instead of printing labels and ballots, voters write their names on the label and election officials write voters’ precincts and which party primary in which they choose to vote. Voters then take a blank card to the electronic voting machine, choose their candidates the same way they would in any other circumstance, print the ballot card with their selections, and give those cards to election officials. The election officials then store those cards in a “emergency bin,” where they are held until power is restored and those cards can be input into the tabulator.
The bin storing the ballots remains locked, according to the Elections Department. When the ballots are input later, they are inserted upside-down for privacy.
Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) said in a news release Tuesday morning that he would be asking Callanen to extend voting hours on election day because of the technical issues.
However, Callanen said the elections department would not be extending voting hours. She said she was able to speak with a staffer from Calvert’s office about the morning’s issues after he pointed out problems at some polling sites.
“I was able to show the staff member that every site on that list had processed numerous voters,” Callanen said.
The Texas Civil Rights Project has not asked for extended voting hours, said Joaquin Gonzalez, a lawyer for the group. It is still gathering information about voting site issues.
“We’re still trying to assess how widespread everything was,” Gonzalez said. “Talk to people that experience things firsthand, basically.”
Callanen reported that election officials have seen several incidents of people returning to vote centers on Tuesday, asking election officials to cancel their early vote ballot because they voted for a candidate who has dropped out out the presidential race and allow them to vote again.
“If you’ve already voted, you cannot come in and vote again,” Callanen said. “Once it’s processed, it’s processed.”
Polls are open until 7 p.m. Bexar County residents can vote at any polling location in the county. And as long as voters are in line by 7 p.m., they can vote. Find more information about voting on election day here.