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The takeaway from Dallas County Commissioners Court: Recent elections went well. Or they didn't

Dallas County Elections Administrator Michael Scarpello.
Ed Timms
Did recent elections in Dallas County go well? It depends on who you ask. Elections officials say yes, county commissioners aren't so upbeat.

Dallas County elections officials have been very upbeat about how smoothly recent elections ran. But county commissioners weren't buying that when they met on Tuesday.

Outgoing elections administrator Michael Scarpello said recently few problems arose among hundreds of voting locations.

“He is a liar,” Commissioner John Wiley Price said. “We were on site.”

Some constituents waited two hours to cast their vote, he said.

“That’s not true, sir,” Scarpello said.

Scarpello said analytics and a new rideshare-type tracking system show contracted employees were dispatching in reasonable time to precinct locations asking for help or reporting problems.

Dallas County Elections Director Michael Scarpello.
Bret Jaspers
Outgoing Dallas County Elections Director Michael Scarpello.

“We were on site, you have your analytics,” Price said.

Commissioner Andrew Sommerman said the data might be flawed because his district experienced problems, too, that were not immediately fixed, including broken voting machines.

Commissioner Theresa Daniel said her district also experienced problems similar to Price’s and Sommerman’s.

Scarpello presented plans to continue improvements that would start showing results by 2025.

Daniel expressed concern that improvements may not come soon enough for important upcoming elections.

Scarpello also presented voter outreach efforts.

Daniel said she gets “a feeling of a pit in my stomach” when she hears planned improvements that could have a reverse effect, confusing voters, like changing voting locations or processes at existing precincts.

Scarpello discussed data on communication network improvements and eventual study results that could further help the election process.

“Studies? Are we finished yet?” Price asked exasperatedly.

Price said he hopes incoming elections administrator Heider Garcia listens to constituent and precinct judge reports to fix problems before the March primary.

Garcia begins his elections administrator role Dec. 20, the day after Scarpello’s retirement.

Got a tip? Email Marina Trahan Martinez at You can follow Marina at @HisGirlHildy.

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Marina Trahan Martinez is KERA's Dallas County government accountability reporter. She's a veteran journalist who has worked in the Dallas area for many years. Prior to coming to KERA, she was on The Dallas Morning News Watchdog investigative and accountability team with Dave Lieber. She has written for The New York Times since 2001, following the 9/11 attacks. Many of her stories for The Times focused on social justice and law enforcement, including Botham Jean's murder by a Dallas police officer and her subsequent trial, Atatiana Jefferson's shooting death by a Fort Worth police officer, and protests following George Floyd's murder. Marina was part of The News team that a Pulitzer finalist for coverage of the deadly ambush of Dallas police officers in 2016.