Travis County elections officials confirmed Thursday they have identified 17 voters who cast ballots twice in the 2016 general election.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said the double voters were discovered during a routine audit conducted after the election.
The voters come from different political backgrounds. Some have Democratic voting histories, while others had historically voted Republican, but most had no voter history at all, she said.
The one thing the 17 people had in common was that each one of them cast one vote during early voting, then another on Election Day.
DeBeauvoir said the voting system used in Travis County prevents voters from voting twice, but an error occurred this year that allowed these 17 people — out of a total of 477,588 who voted in September — to go through.
The finding comes as the Trump administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity requested detailed information on voters from across the country as accusations of voter fraud sweep in from the right, and calls to defend voting rights and access pour in from the left.
So far, 44 states have declined to hand over at least some of the information requested by the committee. Texas has agreed to provide public voter information.
DeBeauvoir said that while these types of incidents can inflame an already controversial issue, it’s important to understand the intent of the voters before casting judgment. She said it’s possible that they simply forgot that they had already cast a ballot.
“We know that voters are human,” she said. “You get busy and you forget. We vote often around here.”
Of the 17 who voted twice, 13 were over 50 years old and 10 were over 60, she said, adding that the ages of the voters might lend some credibility to the “forgetfulness theory.”
She also said fake news stories telling voters who had a change of heart that they could cast another ballot might have led them to believe that what they were doing was lawful.
Either way, DeBeauvoir turned the cases over to the county attorney’s office, who then handed them up to the district attorney’s office. Prosecutors there will determine how to proceed with each case, she said.
“I’ll bet you a million bucks that these people did not do this intentionally, but if they did, the prosecutors will find out,” she said.
Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant said voters might have cast a second ballot by mistake or as a result of confusion or a misunderstanding.
“It’s a small number, (but) if one person commits voter fraud that’s a bad thing,” he said. “That’s why we have this system set up.”
If prosecutors find that the voters intentionally cast two ballots, they could face a felony charge.