Gillespie County Republicans Turn Back Time—Opting for Horse and Buggy Era Procedures

Old-looking photo of people hand counting ballots
Ballot Hand Counting Again Proved More Expensive, Less Accurate

Toplines and Key Facts:

  • Gillespie County Republicans decided to hand-count primary ballots
  • This unnecessarily introduces chance for human mistakes
  • Texas taxpayers foot the bill

On March 6, Gillespie County Republicans manually counted more than 8,000 ballots, a decision made months ago as part of a statewide initiative advocated by individuals promoting election conspiracy theories since the 2020 election. 

Despite studies indicating that hand-counting is time-consuming, expensive, less accurate, and less secure than using machines, Gillespie County Republicans opted to hand-count instead of using tabulators, arguing for “election integrity”.

Much slower tabulation

The margin for error when processing votes through hand counting is much higher than processing them through tabulators, with ballots only being correctly recorded about 58% of the time. Hand counting is particularly less reliable when each county has its own methods and regulations for hand counting. 

Instead of having a consistent and precise system that delivers results within the 24-hour election return period that Republicans established, the results often take much longer to come through. While Republicans may claim that hand counting prevents disenfranchisement, in reality, this process could actually pose a greater threat.

Much more expensive

The process did not unfold nearly as efficiently as Gillespie County Republicans had hoped. From beginning to end, it took almost 24 hours and required the participation of more than 200 individuals to count the ballots. The workers had to keep going until all ballots were counted because Texas law states the counting must occur without breaks. Although the Gillespie County Republican Party paid for the hand count upfront, the state will pay them back, meaning that Texas taxpayers will end up shouldering the cost for their decision to hand count. In 2020, in Travis County, more than $70,000 were spent on hourly employees, revealing just how expensive the process can be.


Help safeguard Texas elections by voicing your support for keeping tabulators to your county commissioners and judges. You can also volunteer as an election worker or become a poll monitor. Additionally, consider backing organizations like Common Cause, which work to protect elections by mobilizing volunteers to assist Texans in navigating the voting process.