New Election Called for Kaufman County Court at Law #1
Visiting Judge Marty Lowy has called for a new election for the Kaufman County Court at Law #1 Republican nomination. He ruled that 9 provisional ballots should have been counted and that at least 5 mail-in ballots should not have been counted, leading to results that just cannot be determined for one side or the other. The margin was just one vote to begin with, in favor of incumbent Judge Dennis Jones. His challenger, Tracy Gray, had won the in-person vote for Early Voting and on Election Day and yet lost the mail-in vote by a wide margin.
Federal Law vs. State Law
Just two weeks prior to this case being heard, a federal judge, Judge Orlando Garcia, ruled that Texas was in violation of the federal National Voter Registration Act. (Read more on the case HERE.) Texas State Law requires a “wet signature” for all voter registration, meaning that while registration can be begun online with a Driver’s License application or renewal, it cannot be completed without an actual signature sent in on a completed form. Federal Law says that this second step violates the voter’s Constitutional rights.
The Department of Public Safety system attaches a notation to the records of people who check “yes” that they want to register to vote or update their voter registration, whether they complete the second step or not. Those records lead Judge Lowry to open and count the provisional ballots of the voters with that notation. There were 9 such provisional ballots that resulted in 5 votes for Tracy Gray and 2 votes for Judge Jones. The other 2 did not vote in this race.
One of these provisional voters, Kimberlee Walker, testified in the case. She said that the necessity of the second step was not clear. She stated that when she learned her vote did not count, she felt “cheated.” The Contestant’s council, Elizabeth Alvarez, argued that she completed the first step and therefore federal law required her vote to count. Contestee’s council, Wade Emmert, argued that the federal court had not yet provided a remedy, so State law should stand.
The Voices of the Voters
Alvarez called several voters to the stand to show what she alleged to be mail-in ballot fraud in this election. She argued that a harvester, identified by Alvarez as Brenda Prince, assisted voters with their ballots, violated the law while doing so, and therefore those ballots could not legally be counted.
Morris and Betty Blanton testified that they believed their “voting papers” just come in the mail. They did not recall sending in an application for a ballot, but when their ballots appeared Morris called Brenda Prince to let her know. Prince then “comes and helps and then takes them.” This same thing has happened for each election for at least 12 years. The problem is that the Election Code requires that Prince fill out the assistant portion of the ballot’s carrier envelope if she helps, even if all she does is mail it for them. Prince failed to do so. Judge Lowy asked Morris Blanton if Prince asked him for whom he wanted to vote. He replied that she didn’t ask, “she know how I vote.”
Inez Davis testified that she doesn’t remember who she voted for since JFK. She doesn’t pay attention to the names of the candidates unless she happens to hear something on the news. She also thought she requested a Democrat ballot although her assistant, Brenda Prince selected Republican. Prince’s name does not appear on Ms. Davis’s carrier envelope. Prince did admit on the stand that, “due to human error, I did not sign the [carrier envelope].” Human error or not, her failure to sign is a crime and it invalidates Inez Davis’s ballot.
Witness Esther Jackson caused the court some confusion. When she was first sworn in to testify, she was the wrong Esther Jackson. Fortunately, the Contestant’s legal team noticed the mix-up right away. It is unclear how the wrong Esther Jackson thought she was supposed to be there, but she was quickly dismissed. The correct Esther Jackson was located, and she testified that she thought she hadn’t voted “in a while.” She recalled Prince asking her to sign something, but she did not know what it was. She stated, “it looks like someone tried to write like me,” when she was shown her carrier envelope signature. According to Jackson’s testimony, Prince may have voted for her, her husband, and her son.
Harvester or Volunteer?
When Brenda Prince took the stand, she explained that she is a caring volunteer and that she helps, “anyone that calls and asks for my help.” She insisted that she only does, “whatever they ask me to do,” and that she merely follows the voter’s instructions. She said she reads them the ballot and then shows them where to fill it out by giving them a copy of a carrier envelope. To the surprise of the Court, she produced the carrier envelope for the court and claimed it was “just an extra ballot!” Upon questioning, she admitted that several people that live elsewhere have their ballots come to her home. Prince’s testimony differed from almost every other witness that came before the Court. She explained this by claiming they were “confused and intimidated.”
In his tentative findings, Judge Lowy stated that the “Court is unable to credit most of Mrs. Prince’s testimony.” He went on to say that he would instead credit the testimony of the voters. He stated that his opinion was that “Mrs. Prince or someone not only assisted these voters but voted for them.”
It is clear that some form of mail-in ballot fraud took place in this election. The difficulty is that once those carrier envelopes are opened and the ballots are removed they cannot be matched back together, and for good reason. The inability to match those ballots back up protects the secrecy of the ballot box. It also prevents us from knowing for whom those votes were cast. True, the votes are invalidated, but the Court has no way of knowing from which column to remove them, hence a new election. Barring any delays from potential appeals, Kaufman County voters will return to the polls on July 21st. Since this election is still part of the Republican Primary, voters who voted in the 2018 Democrat Primary will not be eligible to vote in this new election.