New Election Called for Republican Primary Judge Race in Kaufman County
Visiting Judge Marty Lowy read aloud the names of 10 Provisional Voters and for whom each of them voted in the Republican Primary County Court at Law No. 1 race, during court last week in the case between Tracy Gray and the Honorable Dennis Jones. Lowy, a Democrat, determined that there were Provisional Ballots that should possibly have been counted, despite the Texas Secretary of State’s (SOS) ruling that those Provisional Voters were not truly registered to vote. Judge Lowy ordered a new election set for July 21, 2018 for the contested Republican Primary race for Kaufman County Court at Law No. 1 between Jones and Gray, a race which to this point, has been separated by one vote, in Jones’ favor.
Also, in question were mail-in ballots of disabled, elderly voters who received assistance from social worker, Brenda Prince, filling in their ballots. The Gray Campaign was able to cast enough doubt in the election process to convince Lowy to grant their petition to hold a new election.
Further, Lowy determined that a March 30, 2018 federal case ruling, based on the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), or “Motor Voter Act,” sets the precedent for his ruling pronounced Friday, April 13 in Kaufman. Jones’ attorney, Wade Emmert, did object to the counting of Provisional Ballots, and he may appeal the ruling, but it would be a costly process.
Currently, in the State of Texas, one must fill out a printed voter registration application and mail it in to their County’s Voter Registrar or County Clerk, despite checking the box on the driver’s license application or driver’s license renewal form proving one’s desire to register to vote. As with the case of the voter whom the Texas SOS ruled unregistered, some driver’s license applicants have thought they were registered simply by checking the box on their license application form, which states that they want to register to vote.
However, it was explained by Ruth in the Kaufman County Voter Registrar’s Office, that when filling in a driver’s license renewal application online, and checking the box that shows a desire to be registered to vote, there is another box that “pops up,” which must be printed off, filled in, signed, and mailed to the Registrar’s office at P.O. Box 339, Kaufman, Texas 75142. That address will be different if one is registering in another county.
Under Section 5, number 3 of the NVRA, it states in the first paragraph, “What voter registration opportunity is required by Section 5 of the NVRA?Each State motor vehicle driver’s license application (including any renewal application) submitted to a State motor vehicle authority must serve as a simultaneous voter registration application unless the applicant fails to sign the voter registration application. This application for voter registration must be considered as updating any previous voter registration by the applicant.” (underlined emphasis added)
So, does Texas violate this requirement? Apparently, Judge Lowy thinks so, despite the availability of online applications and instructions. Failure to comply with the NVRA may also rest with the Texas Department of Public Safety, and responsibility may yet be determined by a judge or an appellate judicial panel, as the NVRA in Section 5, number 6, requires the registering agency to submit applications to “the appropriate State election official.”
For now, it appears there will be another Republican Primary election held to determine the next Judge in the Kaufman County Court at Law No. 1, unless there is an hasty appeal. Stay tuned for the continuation of the saga.