Vote-count­ing tra­di­tion is proudly old-school

Folks in Bas­trop County have no in­ten­tion of giv­ing up their dry-erase board.

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Andy Sevilla

You might have watched elec­tion re­sults roll in on­line Tues­day night. In Bas­trop County, how­ever, some peo­ple proudly re­lied on a dry-erase board for re­sults.

A pub­lic vote-count­ing party is a quirky, old-school tra­di­tion in the county, com­plete with live re­sults up­dated by hand for view­ers to see.

Bas­trop County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Bryan Go­ertz said the pub­lic vote count has been go­ing on since he was in high school. He joined the tra­di­tion as an or­ga­nizer in 2007. Johnny San­ders, a for­mer county com­mis­sioner, Bas­trop City Coun­cil mem­ber and school board pres­i­dent, has been in­volved with or­ga­niz­ing the watch par­ties for 37 years.

Crowds have be­come smaller as elec­tion re­sults are now re­ported on­line, Go­ertz said, but the time-hon­ored tra­di­tion lives on.

Dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice in­ves­ti­ga­tor David Lewis has been in­volved in or­ga­niz­ing the watch party since the early 1980s. He said that be­fore on­line elec­tion re­port­ing, those in­volved would have a run­ner go back and forth from the county court­house to the watch party to re­port the re­sults.

“When the run­ner would show up, the crowd would part like it was the Olympics,” Go­ertz said.

Peo­ple from far-away towns and com­mu­ni­ties nearby, like Cald­well, would come by to ob­serve the watch par­ties be­cause they had heard of them, Lewis said.

“In the old days, we’d use big ply­woods and put white pa­per over them to re­port the re­sults,” Lewis said. “You couldn’t mess up be­cause then you’d mess up the whole thing.”

If the or­ga­niz­ers have any­thing to say about it, the tra­di­tion will live on.

“We’re not go­ing to let this die on our watch. We don’t want to let this die,” Go­ertz said.

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