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Over 20 GOP Candidates Sue Largest Texas County Alleging Election Day Malfeasance

Harris County, Texas, the most populous in the Lone Star State, has become the center of election challenge lawsuits after a myriad of problems occurred on Election Day in November. The Texan reported last week that the first of 21 election trials wrapped up in Houston. All of the cases were brought by Republican candidates, according to Houston Public Media. The first trial featured Republican Erin Lunceford challenging Democrat Tamika Craft’s 2,743-vote win out of 1 million ballots cast in a district judge contest. A decision in the case is not expected for a least a month. On the day Lunceford’s trial ended, Republican county judge candidate Alexandra Mealer filed an amended complaint, alleging widespread violations of Texas election law and possible illegal votes in excess of incumbent Democratic Judge Lina Hidalgo’s margin of victory of approximately 18,000 votes, or 1.67 percent. Mealer told The Western Journal there are parallels between what happened in Harris County (the Houston metro area, population 4.7 million) in November and what occurred in Maricopa County (the Phoenix metro area, 4.5 million). In Maricopa County, it was printers malfunctioning at up to 59 percent of polling locations, causing tabulators not to be able to read ballots. Long lines formed and because Republicans vote 3 to 1 over Democrats on Election Day, GOP candidates like Kari Lake were most impacted by the chaos. Lake further alleged that the areas where most of the problems occurred happened to be Republican strongholds. Mealer said the same was true in Harris County. Multiple polling stations there ran out of ballot paper, while several other polling sites did not open on time or experienced other voting machine issues. “At this point, it’s almost a year later, and we still can’t answer how many locations ran out of paper for how long. How many machines were down for how long? West Gray — [the] largest voting center in Texas, so not insignificant — the first few hours had incredibly long lines no one had ever seen,” she recounted. “It wasn’t one thing that went wrong. It was just the culmination of so many things that made it really hard for a lot of people to vote,” Mealer explained. [firefly_poll] “It disproportionately impacted Republican areas and even if they weren’t Republican areas, Republicans disproportionately vote on Election Day compared to Democrats.” Mealer’s campaign was surprised by Election Day vote totals. “We were all pretty shocked seeing all the results come in that I did worse [on] Election Day than I did early voting. That just doesn’t happen right now with the way Republicans vote,” she said. Mealer’s attorneys assert that the official ballot reconciliation report contains a discrepancy of almost 10,000 mail-in ballots. “Specifically, the mail in ballot reconciliation signed by the Presiding Judge of the Central Counting Station reflects that only 54,952 mail in ballots should have been submitted to the Signature Verification Committee and the Early Voting Ballot Board. However, 64,259 were actually submitted,” Mealer’s complaint states. Further, she alleges Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum failed to follow state law in relation to the amount of ballot paper on hand at each polling location. The Texas election code “required the EA to provide each polling location with twenty-five percent more ballots than were cast at the corresponding location in the previous election,” the complaint says. “The EA’s records show that the office arbitrarily allocated 300 ballots (or 600 pages of ballot paper) to most polling locations rather than determining the amount of ballot paper based on historical voter turnout as required.” According to The Texan, the county stood by the number of ballots it had on hand and said state law did not apply. Mealer’s suit also alleges that Tatum’s office violated Texas law by not keeping a record of the ballots distributed to each polling center by serial number. “The purpose of this statute is to ensure that the EA can reconcile the number of unused ballots returned against the number of ballots cast and spoiled ballots. This is a critical safeguard against double-voting and other forms of election fraud,” the complaint says. The suit also claims Tatum failed to adequately test and maintain voting equipment, saying, “The widespread lack of functioning equipment suppressed voting, even though it is difficult to determine the precise impact at any individual location.” Additionally, Mealer alleges that the EA illegally kept polling places open after 7 p.m. “However, the EA knew that not all Harris County polling locations had paper to stay open. In other words, the EA consented to an emergency order extending voting hours despite knowing that not all countywide polling locations would, or even could, stay open for the extra hour as required,” the complaint says. “The EA’s failure to notify the court that certain polling places were already closed and had run out of ballots is a serious statutory violation that suppressed voting at a critical time in the election.” Mealer’s attorneys noted in her suit that Senate Bill 1, which passed in 2021, calls for strict adherence to the language of Texas election law. Democratic state legislators made national headlines when they fled Austin to Washington, D.C., in July 2021 to deny Republicans a quorum to pass the bill. Ultimately, they had to return and the legislation passed. Mealer’s complaint states, “Following S.B.1, election officials and the Courts are required to strictly construe the Election Code ‘to reduce the likelihood of fraud in the conduct of elections, protect the secrecy of the ballot, promote voter access, and ensure that all legally cast ballots are counted.”’ Mealer seeks a new election. “In the race for Harris County Judge, the illegal conduct of the EA calls into question the election’s fairness and whether the election met even the minimum standards for validity under the Texas Election Code,” the complaint says. “For this reason, the real result of the election is unknowable, the election should be voided and a new election ordered.” The Western Journal reached out to the Harris County elections department but had not received a response at the time of publication. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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