Fate of Midland County Freshwater District Remains in the Hands of One Voter

By Abby Reed
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Midland voters learned there would be no election results in the bid for a new freshwater supply district, because somebody made a big mistake. Now the office of the State Secretary is involved.

Only one voter was supposed to vote on the three propositions regarding the fresh water supply district. Instead, four extra voters were mistakenly allowed to cast ballots on the issue. It's a big blunder, and election workers and the State Secretary's office are working to clean the mess up.

When the results came down on election night, the numbers told a much different story than expected. They showed that 5 people had voted on the fresh water propositions.

"I was shocked because, I just felt that everyone knew that one voter got to vote on it and that was the way it was going to be," Elections Administrator Ruth Sloan, said.

Sloan says it was a result of human error.

"You know, even with paper ballots, every once in a while, a wrong ballot was given out. I feel that it was just a simple mistake made by the worker," Sloan said.

The three propositions would determine the fate of the Water Supply District, who the supervisors were going to be, and whether revenue bonds totaling $375 million dollars would fund it.

A man named Ryan Latham was the only qualified voter for the props, because he was the only registered voter who lived in this particular plot of land just west of the airport.

NewsWest 9 has confirmed that Latham voted early, but as for the other voters who mistakenly weighed in, there's no way to find out who they are.

NewsWest 9 asked Sloan how this error affected the integrity of the rest of the election and if other ballots regarding other issues could be wrong.

"This was a very unusual election in that only one voter was allowed to vote, so the likelihood of this happening is very small," Sloan said.

According to the State Secretary's Office, Latham has another decision to make.

"The election can be contested, and they have 30 days after canvassing to do so," Jordy Keith with the State Secretary's Office, said.

If Latham decides to contest the results, he'll have to file that decision in the district courts.

"Then the district court would review the error, and they would either change the outcome of the election, or they could order a new election, which is what I believe they intend to do," Keith said.