November 09, 2008
Only provisional ballots left to go

At this point, all the early and Election Day votes have been counted, and only provisional ballots remain.

In the closest of the 27 countywide judicial elections, Republican state district Judge Elizabeth Ray trailed Democratic challenger Josefina Muniz Rendon by 375 votes after the polls closed Tuesday night.

But Harris County clerk's staffers added more than 800 ballots to the entire election Friday after discovering that a cluster of mail-in ballots, plus votes from Precinct 414 in east Harris County, had not been counted initially because of a computer error, Clerk Beverly Kaufman said.

The additional votes cut Rendon's lead to 135 votes -- out of 1.1 million cast in that contest.


In another civil court match, Republican incumbent Joseph "Tad" Halbach's advantage over Democrat Goodwille Pierre stood at 595 votes Friday, up from 351 in the initial count.

The two races apparently are the only ones on the ballot whose outcome could be affected by the ballots that remain to be counted.


About 3,000 mail ballots sent to county voters overseas in military and civilian functions had not yet been returned before Sunday's deadline, officials said. But Kaufman expects only a few to make it by then, and the voters who used them may not have voted in the judicial races, which were toward the back of a ballot that placed the presidential race more prominently.

A county ballot board, composed of citizens appointed by political parties, also is checking the 7,000 or so provisional ballots. A provisional ballot is used when a voter is not on the registration list but believes he is properly registered. If that turns out to be the case later, the votes are added to the total. Clerk's spokesman Hector de Leon said typically only 10 percent pass the test.

My assumption continues to be that provisional ballots are likely to favor Democrats, but even if that's correct and if there's a higher than usual number of them accepted, I think it's very unlikely to affect the outcome in the Halbach-Pierre race. It's possible that the remaining overseas ballots, which I think will lean Republican, could affect the Rendon-Ray race, but again I don't think there's enough of them out there to make a difference. So, barring anything weird, we've got the judges we're going to get.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 09, 2008 to Election 2008
Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)