Discrepancy Over Vote Counts Creates Confusion In Texas State Senate District 14 Race

Jul 15, 2020

Editor's note: Vote totals from the state and Travis and Bastrop counties now match. Sarah Eckhardt currently has 49.66% of the vote.

Former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt took home the most votes in the special election Tuesday to replace Kirk Watson in the Texas Senate, but whether she got enough to win outright or must face state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez in a runoff is unclear.

The confusion comes from a discrepancy between vote totals from the state and Travis and Bastrop counties.

Early voting totals were encouraging for Eckhardt, who appeared to be holding a majority of votes against five opponents for the Senate District 14 seat. The most serious challenge came from fellow Democrat Rodriguez of Austin.

But later Tuesday night, the vote tallies posted on the Secretary of State’s unofficial, yet widely reported, election results page didn't match up with county totals.

For instance, the state listed Republican Waller T. Burns as having more than 13,000 votes, while his midcount totals in the two counties were closer to 1,300. There were also discrepancies for independent candidate Jeff Ridgeway and Libertarian Pat Dixon.  

The high numbers diluted the percentages and made the runoff picture unclear for the two top candidates.

Despite that, Eckhardt said she was encouraged by the results.

“Whether we win with or without a runoff, I am looking forward to serving the people of Senate District 14,” she said in a statement.

Rodriguez’s team said he will be making a statement Wednesday morning after more votes are in.

The special election became necessary after Watson resigned in April to start an academic position at the University of Houston.

The winner will represent much of Travis and all of Bastrop counties for the rest of Watson’s term, set to expire in 2023.