In what is geographically the biggest district in the U.S., the race for Congress is still too close to call.
The latest vote count in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, which is about 58,000 square miles and runs from Bexar County all the way to the outskirts of El Paso, indicates Republican incumbent Will Hurd and Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones are within just a few percentage points of each other.
Dylan McGuinness, government and politics reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, says the Associated Press and other outlets initially declared Hurd the winner That happened at about 11 p.m. on election night. But then things changed.
“At the time, I think he had a lead of around four points which … would be a pretty comfortable victory,” McGuinness says. “Around 2:30 a.m., it seems like according to the state’s results, that Gina Ortiz Jones has actually come back and pulled off an upset win by a little less than 300 votes.”
But McGuinness says officials later determined that those votes were the result of an error in Medina County, and Hurd was back in the lead. Now, McGuinness says officials are doing a “continuing count.” That’s different than a recount, like those happening in Florida and Georgia races.
“There are several types of ballots – provisional ballots, outstanding ballots, military ballots – that aren’t included in the Tuesday night vote, so the Ortiz Jones campaign is trying to make sure that all those votes are counted so they can get an understanding of where the race actually is,” McGuinness says.
McGuinness says most of these ballots are paper ballots, and it’s unclear what method each of the 29 counties will use to count them all.
“I imagine some might use machines to count those and some might be doing that by hand,” McGuinness says.
By the end of election night, at about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, Hurd was ahead by just about 700 votes, McGuinness says. Ortiz Jones appeared to concede at that point, but later in the morning, she announced that she wouldn’t concede and wanted officials to count every vote. Hurd declared victory on Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning. McGuinness says since then, Hurd’s lead has grown to about 1,000 votes.
In Texas, McGuinness a challenger can request a recount when their votes are within 10 percent of the winner’s total votes.
“[Ortiz Jones is] well within that – they’re just a thousand votes apart,” McGuinness says.
He says the state should have a final count of votes by the end of November.
Written by Caroline Covington.