(The Center Square) – All but 21 lawsuits filed by Harris County Republican judicial candidates contesting the 2022 election have come to an end after a judge presiding over the case dismissed them.
Retired Judge David Peeples of San Antonio issued three separate rulings in 16 cases. He dismissed a lawsuit filed by Republican Erin Lunceford against Democrat Tamika Craft in the race for the 189th District Court. In the other cases, he granted summary judgment to quash them. One judicial election contest remains pending before the court of appeals on a motion seeking to dismiss it.
Republican candidates sued after losing by slim margins and after voting irregularities occurred, including voters being turned away from polling locations because there was no ballot paper.
In response to the outcome of Peeples’ ruling, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said, “I’m glad the judge confirmed what we’ve all known for a year now. These Republican candidates lost the 2022 election. We at the county have moved on. Voters have moved on. I hope the Harris County Republican Party will move on too.”
In Lunceford’s case, Peeples ruled, “the court has found many mistakes and violations of the Election Code by the Harris County Elections Administration Office and other election officials. But the court holds that not enough votes were put in doubt to justify voiding the election for the 189th District Court and ordering a new one.”
However, in his 35-page ruling, he gave a blistering rebuke of Harris County EAO, saying, “the EAO chose not to follow section 51.005 – indeed the EAO totally ignored it,” referring to the law requiring ballot paper to be supplied to voting locations.
He also said, “the EAO did the opposite of what the Legislature had mandated. The EAO supplied one-size-fits-all allocation of 600 ballots apiece for 766 of the 782 polling locations (98%),” which “had tragic consequences.” These include, “several polling locations ran out of paper and were not able to get more paper in time for waiting voters. Election workers who made phone calls for more paper were often put on hold or told to leave a message. Promised paper was not always delivered. When voters eventually went elsewhere to try to vote, they sometimes encountered paper shortages and long lines at the other locations.”
“Had the EAO simply tried to obey the Legislature, twenty-one election contests might have been avoided because the shortages of ballot paper caused much of the Election Day chaos.
“The consequences of the EAO’s decision were foreseeable, avoidable, and costly,” the judge wrote.
As a result, at least 2,900 voters left their polling locations without voting because of paper shortages, the judge said, pointing to witnesses’ “credible testimony.”
Additionally, he said, “the court finds that because of paper shortages, 2,600 voters who tried to vote at their polling place of choice left without voting. These numbers do not include voters discouraged by long lines who voted elsewhere due to machine malfunctions or paper jams, which were not caused by EAO decisions.”
Another 966 votes were illegally cast by nonresidents of the county that “should not have been counted,” he said. Another 270 votes should not have been counted because the boxes for former residence and current residence were left “totally blank – that it was not lawful to approve them and they should not have been counted.”
Of another 532 votes that “did not satisfy one or more of the election code’s requirements” for having a photo ID, he said, “380 of the 532 challenged RIDs are so lacking in the statutory information that they are improper, and votes cast by these 350 voters should not have been counted.”
Peeple’s rebuke was consistent with a Secretary of State audit that found the county violated election law.
Republican attorney Alexandra del Moral Mealer, call McNeely and I evaluate the sports side of RN OK I’ve been this last few weeks is crazy Peter and Nina stuff anyway he called and I talk to Jason garage earlier this week to get quiet I don’t touch I have no idea what he’s doing in sports just a feeling matter what he’s doing with his name Dawn call McNeely started looking into the data on the FTP site who challenged Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, lost and sued. In August, she claimed there were over 32,000 likely illegal ballots cast. However, within a month, she dropped her lawsuit.
After doing so, Menefee said, “Mealer finally realized what a waste of time and resources it was to litigate this case. She didn’t win the election and she wasn’t going to win the election contest, yet she insisted on continuing to spread conspiracy theories in an attempt to overturn the will of the voters.”
Other candidates who also dropped their lawsuits include Sartaj Bal, James Lombardino, and Dan Spjut.
As a result of the county’s election oversight failures, state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, filed a bill to fix them, which the legislature passed. Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law, and despite legal challenges, it went into effect Sept. 1. The law eliminated the EAO and returned election oversight to the county clerk’s office as it was before. After doing so, there appears to have been no issues on election day this year.