San Marcos City Councilmember Ed Mihalkanin requested a recount of all early voting and Election Day ballots cast in all city voting locations for the City Council Place 3 race, where election results show he lost with 28.6% of the vote.
According to the Hays County elections website, election results in the City Council Place 3 race show candidate Alyssa Garza winning with 71.4% of the vote, or 13,854 votes, beating incumbent Mihalkanin, who has 5,549 votes. San Marcos race results have yet to be canvassed by the city. Canvassing results means confirming all ballots cast in an election, giving election officials the ability to resolve any errors in the process before the results are made official.
Mihalkanin called for a recount of the Place 3 race ahead of the canvassing of results. In a statement to The University Star, San Marcos Communications Director Kristy Stark stated that the recount was set to begin at 9 a.m. on Nov. 13. According to Stark, the city’s canvass of San Marcos election results will still be held virtually at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16.
“If the recount is not completed prior to [6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16], Alyssa Garza will not be issued her certificate of election and therefore will not be sworn in as a council member, which means that Dr. Mihalkanin would still be seated for the November 17 City Council meeting. Once the recount is completed, the city would then need to canvass those results and issue the certificate of election,” Stark said.
Mihalkanin says that in his request for a recount, he is not alleging any election fraud. He indicated he has the “highest respect” for Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson and her staff, saying he does not think there was any “malintent.”
“I had a number of people call me for the last seven days, all independently saying the same thing. These are people who have been involved in the civic life of our community for a long time, and they all said the same thing — that when the numbers in the Place 3 race are compared to the other City Council races on the same ballot, the numbers don't make sense,” Mihalkanin said.
Mihalkanin claims the only way the Place 3 and Place 4 race results can be true is if about 4,000 people who voted for Garza also voted for City Council Place 4 candidate Shane Scott. He challenges this idea because he says Scott and Garza have diametrically opposed politics, and Scott’s opponent, Mark Rockeymoore, ran on the same ticket as Garza.
“It seems like the race for Place 3 numbers were outliers, and with the number of people asking me to request a paper ballot count, I decided to do it,” Mihalkanin said.
Garza believes her lead in the Place 3 race is due to her community outreach efforts. She says that Place 4 candidate Scott was also very active campaigning in the San Marcos community and claims a more active campaign generally yields higher voter turnout.
“I've had multiple community members message me to help me with my campaign, some that hadn't voted in years. I had a mom, over 30 years old, who hadn’t voted in her entire life, and she wanted to amplify my message. I really just think that it goes back to people feeling unheard and hopeful that somebody is going to help them amplify their voice, particularly as we emerge from COVID,” Garza said.
Due to his request for a ballot recount, Mihalkanin says he will be intentionally absent from the upcoming Nov. 17 regular City Council meeting. He says he did not call for a recount for the purpose of delaying the swearing-in of Garza and attending the Nov. 17 meeting, so he will not participate or vote on any resolutions.
“When the recount is done, I will go to the subsequent City Council meeting, no matter what happens,” Mihalkanin said. “And if the numbers still pan out that [Garza] is the winner, I will hope that I'm allowed to make the motion to recognize the canvassing, and to recognize her election and wish her the best.”
The San Marcos City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. over Zoom. Meeting agendas and minutes can be accessed through the Agenda Center on the City of San Marcos website.