Republicans who have spent the past nine months questioning Harris County’s November elections will have their day in court Tuesday when the first of 21 lawsuits aimed at overturning the results will go to trial.
GOP judicial candidate Erin Lunceford lost to incumbent 189th-District Judge Tamika Craft by 2,743 votes — a 0.26 percent margin, much narrower than most of the contested races in which some candidates trailed the winners by up to 35,000 votes. The fate of the other 20 cases could depend on whether Lunceford’s attorneys are able to convince a judge that a shortage of ballot paper on Election Day, along with a myriad of other alleged problems, impacted enough votes that the winner of the race is uncertain.
Judge David Peeples, a visiting judge from San Antonio, is overseeing the 21 Harris County election contest lawsuits.
Attorneys representing candidates involved in the lawsuit did not respond to requests for an interview.
However, Andy Taylor, Lunceford’s attorney, told the Houston Chronicle in April that he was not depending solely on an Election Day ballot paper shortage to persuade the judge to throw out the election results for his client.
In fact, most of Taylor’s strategy is now aimed at other voting issues, according to First Assistant County Attorney Jonathan Fombonne, who represents Harris County, which is not a party to the lawsuit.
“What (Taylor) is trying to prove is that there were a bunch of illegally cast votes, mostly votes that are what we call non-traditional ballots, as in provisional ballots, ballots by mail, or ballots that were cast with statements of residence should not have been accepted,” Fombonne said.
In court filings, Lunceford’s attorneys have argued for throwing out ballots cast by voters who arrived at the polls during the extended time, as well as thousands of other provisional ballots they claim should not have been counted.
Ultimately, the question of whether alleged problems resulted from mistakes or malfeasance will not be relevant in the trial, Fombonne said.
“The election contests don’t turn on malfeasance,” Fombonne said. “You could have malfeasance; you could just have a simple mistake. The issue is, did the person who won the election actually win the election? And if you can show that it was because of malfeasance, it doesn’t get you any further than if you can show that it was because of some mistake.”
When Lunceford’s team originally filed the lawsuit, their argument was based primarily on the ballot paper shortages, Fombonne said.
“The crux of the trial has transformed completely by challenging forms of ID, signatures, addresses and things like that that we believe are mostly completely false,” Fombonne said.
See here for the most recent update. It’s hilarious, pathetic, and completely predictable that Andy Taylor would move on from the original evidence-free hypotheticals to his old playbook of claiming that the votes were somehow illegal. Don’t forget Rule #1 around here, which is never believe a word Andy Taylor says.
My expectation is the Taylor will try to kick up a bunch of dust and hope that enough of it gets into everyone’s eyes. I suppose the absolute worst case scenario here is that there would need to be some number of do-over elections, which is too chaotic and wild to even contemplate. I do agree with the statement Mark Jones made at the end of the story, which is that if Erin Lunceford, whose margin of defeat was much smaller than anyone else’s, does not prevail, then the rest of the suits will likely go away. Let’s hope for that outcome.