Election Integrity

Protect Your Vote 2020: Quick Guides*

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It is absolutely crucial that everyone is fully prepared for this election. 2020 has thrown many parts of our world into chaos, the election process is no exception. We have seen countless attempts to thwart whole sections of the Election Code from court battles to blatantly unlawful actions. Do not allow a lack of knowledge or a lack of action destroy the integrity of our elections. 

Use the guides below to educate and prepare yourself for the battle ahead. Whether you serve on the front lines as an Election Judge/Clerk, in a supporting role as Poll Watcher, or simply spread the word and educate yourself and your friends, you must step up and do your part.

We have provided these guides in PNG format. Please feel free to download, print, and share them. If you have any questions, contact us at info@directactiontx.com.

Get Informed and Get Involved!

Quick Guide for Voters: Front / Back

Quick Guide for Voters-By Mail: Front / Back

Quick Guide for Activists and Campaigns: Front / Back

Quick Guide for Election Judges and Clerks: Coming Soon

Quick Guide for Poll Watchers: Front / Back

Quick Guide for the Ballot Board: Front

Quick Guide for the Signature Verification Committee: Front / Back

*The linked documents are just guides. Direct Action Texas is not a legal firm and cannot give legal advice. Always refer to the Texas Election Code, Texas Secretary of State, and your County Elections Office.

Constitutional Victory

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Justice Larry Doss was victorious in his election contest and will have a new election against his challenger Steven Denny. Denny won the race for the 7th Court of Appeals by 319 votes, however, it was later discovered that Cochran and Collingsworth Counties omitted this race from their ballots. The citizens of those counties were disenfranchised, and their votes and voices were taken from them.

That was the general ruling of Judge Stacy Trotter of the 358th District Court. He stated that the omissions kept “1,214 eligible voters from Cochran and Collingsworth counties from participating in this election and voting for and selecting the candidate of their choice.”

It is comforting to know that there are courts in Texas that still protect the constitutional rights of citizens. The citizens of all 46 counties in the 7th Court of Appeals District should see this race on their Republican Primary Runoff ballot in July.

The ruling now begs the question, why did Doss have to pay for a contest when this race so clearly should have been voided? Direct Action Texas has reached out to the Republican Party of Texas and the Republican Party County Chairmen of both Cochran and Collingsworth for comment on why these races were certified, but we have received no responses. 

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Midland ISD Bond Fight: New Contest Filing

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Christine Foreman and David Joyner of the pro-bond We Choose Our Future PAC have filed a petition for an election contest in the Midland ISD Bond Election that has been fraught with errors and controversy. Their filing came the same day Midland County Elections opened a recently discovered ballot box revealing 836 ballots that were not counted in the recount. Their petition calls for “a manual recount to ensure all legal ballots cast in this election are counted and determine the true outcome thereof.” This is problematic in two ways.

First of all, in a press conference, Christine Foreman herself questioned the chain of custody for the newly discovered ballot box. Why would she, or anyone, want those ballots counted if they could have been compromised? Secondly, contests are not meant to result in manual recounts. There has already been a recount. That ship has sailed. In the case of a bond election, a true election contest would call for a judge to declare the entire election void. Midland ISD would then have to start again and hold another election if it wanted to continue to pursue the bond. 

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More Missing Votes and a Mystery Box in Midland

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Midland County officials seem determined for Midland voters to lose complete faith in the integrity of their elections.

A $569 million bond passed by 18 votes and then failed by 25 votes on Election night. Then the bond passed by 11 in the recount, but 820 votes were missing. The Midland ISD School Board rushed to canvass the vote despite the missing votes. Next there was an attempt to find those missing votes with a partial recount. The results? The missing vote tally rose to 840. Now Midland County has scheduled another count, a full counting of ballots and the opening and potential counting of a new mystery box. 

Thursday’s Recount That Wasn’t a Recount

In what can only be seen as an attempt to redeem themselves, Midland County Elections was granted a court order from District Judge Lindemood to open the ballot boxes once again. This time, a team of two would physically count the ballots, with a third person to count if the first two counts didn’t match. Then the ballots were ordered to be counted by the DS450 scanner and tabulator. 

This last portion of the count became contentious when all parties realized the machine could not count the ballots without producing a “for” and “against” result. Could the pro-bond PAC, We Choose Our Future, be afraid of what that result might show? The election has been canvassed. The only way to change the election now is with a contest. Elections Administrator Deborah Land opted to replace the electronic count with another manual counter and all sides agreed.

All this counting stopped abruptly, however, when the first batch of ballots counted revealed a widening of the gap in votes by 20. Apparently, the counting of these first two boxes did not solve the problem as EA Land had hoped. District Judge Lindemood was called upon again to allow for a pause in the counting process until Monday December 16th

The Counting Continues with a Bonus Mystery Box

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Small Towns, Big Loopholes: Joshua’s Mayoral Election

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Citizens of Joshua are facing a locked door and a lack of confidence in the integrity of their November 23rd Mayoral Special Election. Could the current administration of Joshua use gray areas and loopholes in the code to steal a hotly contested election? That is the question many are asking in Joshua right now.

A Brief History

Earlier this year Kenny Robinson defeated 3-term Mayor Joe Hollarn. The Citizens of Joshua wanted a change. Then, after less than three months in office, Mayor Robinson resigned.

Robinson stated in a letter addressed to city officials and the Joshua City Council that the “wants of the city manager and members of the city council are at a difference.” He further stated that “The stress from the differences has caused me health issues. After discussion with my wife and family, it is with a heavy heart and much praying I have decided to resign as mayor of Joshua effective immediately.”

The conflict in Joshua is one that is common in small-town Texas today, economic development. The big question is should Joshua retain its country living feel or focus on growth into a larger city. Those that supported Kenny Robinson don’t want Joshua to become another Frisco. 

Special Election

The candidates vying to fill the vacant seat are formerly ousted Joe Hollarn and Robert Fleming. Hollarn is once again backed by those that want to push for growth and Fleming’s supporters are largely the same as those that backed Robinson. Hollarn’s advantage is the backing of the City Manager and City Council, especially since that City Council appointed City Manager Josh Jones to administer the election and serve as Election Judge for the City’s single precinct.  

The previous Mayoral Election was administered by City Secretary Lisa Cabrera.  She did not administer the November elections as she was terminated by the City Council in October. Her termination came after Mayor Robinson vacated his office and not long before the election of his replacement. The Council remains tight-lipped on the cause for her termination. The City Secretary vacancy appears to have paved the way to appoint the City Manager. The City Council held a Special Council Meeting November 14th to appoint City Manager Jones to the Early Voting Clerk position (election administrator) for the November 23rd election as well as ratifying his actions as Early Voting Clerk for the November 5thelection. This action was clearly after the fact, but the Secretary of State tends to look the other way when cities make “mistakes” like this.

While this appointment is legal, many citizens of Joshua feel the fox is guarding the henhouse. This sentiment is further aggravated by the polling location’s locked door.

There is only one voting location and it is inside City Hall behind a closed, locked, door that requires a code for entry. When a voter enters City Hall, the City Manager is paged, he enters the room from an interior door, lets the voter in, and processes the voter. If the City Manager is not available, the Assistant City Manager/Election Clerk processes the voter. This process makes some voters uneasy.

The City may argue that this is the best procedure to both keep the ballots safe and save money for the city. However, there have been reports of voters showing up to the polling location, finding the locked door and no one at the reception desk, and leaving without voting. This is very problematic. How many voters’ votes were suppressed by this setup? This election could be determined by a handful of votes, so every vote does matter. Hopefully, those voters will return on Election Day, but they may not. 

The City of Joshua did not contract with Johnson County for this election so the voters cannot turn to the County for assistance. They must instead appeal to the Secretary of State (SoS).  The SoS can bring in State Inspectors to oversee the administration of the election and ensure its integrity. Candidate Robert Fleming has made those appeals if only to reassure the citizens of Joshua. However, as of the posting of this article, calls to the SoS have not been returned. 

Lost Opportunity

Over a dozen bills were filed in the Texas Legislature in the 86th session that dealt with uniform election dates. Uniform election dates would demand that City and ISD elections be held on the same dates as County and State Elections. This would be a huge step toward ensuring that cities and school districts would contract with the County for their elections. Ultimately contracting with the County adds an extra layer of oversight and impartiality to the election.

Unfortunately, all of these bills failed along with most of the other legislation that would have improved election integrity in Texas. We must now wait until the next session in 2021 to help cities like Joshua.

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