GONZALES - County Clerk Lee Riedell informed county commissioners on Monday that Gonzales County may not be able to hold its primary elections this year.
Riedell said the secretary of state’s office informed her last week that in 2012, Democratic Chairman Ken Mosher failed to pay election fees to Election Systems and Software (ESS), a company that manufactures voting ballots. Riedell added that Mosher neglected to file the necessary paperwork with the secretary of state’s office for monies to pay the bill, ultimately resulting in ESS’s refusal to send Gonzales County its ballots.
“The state helps finance the primary elections,” Riedell said. “But in order for them to do that, the party chairman has to file paperwork with the secretary of state’s office. [Mosher] did not pay for the ballots. He didn’t pay any of his election people either. Nor did he file his paperwork.”
Riedell said she was supposed to have started mailing ballots out last week, but she can’t do that because there are no ballots to send.
“Early voting starts February 18,” she explained. “I was supposed to have started mailing out ballots last week week, [Mosher] did not file the necessary paperwork with the secretary of state’s office to get the money from the state to pay the bill.”
“My hands are tied,” Riedell said. “If there are no ballots, then there won’t be a primary. [ESS] can hold the ballots because when [the county] signs an election contract, the contract states that if you have an outstanding balance then they won’t release the ballots.”
For his part, Mosher confirmed that it was because of his past due amount that the ballots have not been sent.
“It was because of an outstanding balance I had with ESS,” he said. “It was a screw up on my part, and I’m trying to get it covered. I’ve gotten the money together and it will be sent to ESS. It’s going to be down to the wire, but once it gets to them everyone will be squared away.”