The results of Harris County’s highly scrutinized November 2022 election were upheld Thursday evening by a judge, who threw out all but one remaining election contest out of 21 related lawsuits.
Republican candidate Erin Lunceford filed her suit in December, asking a judge to order a new election in the 189th judicial district court race she lost to Democrat Tamika Craft by 2,743 votes. Lunceford argued thousands of residents were unable to vote due to a ballot paper shortage that impacted around 20 polls on Election Day.
Lunceford’s case later expanded as her team went on to flag thousands of ballots they claimed should not have been counted.
However, after an eight-day trial in which Lunceford’s legal team did not provide testimony from any disenfranchised voters, Judge David Peeples, a visiting judge from Bexar County, ruled the results of the race were legitimate.
In a 36-page ruling, Peeples said he found Harris County had made “many mistakes and violations of the Election Code.”
“But the court holds that not enough votes were put in doubt to justify voiding the election for the 189th District Court and ordering a new one,” Peeples concluded.
The ruling was not a clear win for Harris County, as Peeples did find merit with many of Lunceford’s arguments. By his estimate, a total of 2,891 votes were affected by various problems — larger than the margin in the race. However, Peeples determined that the outcome would not have changed, since many of those voters likely would have skipped the 189th judicial race on the ballot, and many of those who did vote in the race would have voted for Craft.
Lunceford is expected to appeal Thursday’s ruling.
Along with the Lunceford decision, Peeples at the same time dismissed 15 additional election contest lawsuits filed by Republican candidates based on similar arguments, finding that the final results were the true outcome of those races.
One remaining case is still pending. Republican Tami Pierce is challenging the results of the 180th criminal state district court race she lost to incumbent Democrat DaSean Jones.
See here for the previous update. Judge Peeples took three months to issue his ruling,. so you can’t say he rushed it. There’s a copy of the opinion embedded in the story; I haven’t read it yet. Judge Peeples estimated there were between 250-850 people who were unable to vote because of the paper shortages. I don’t know how one could arrive at any such figure given the complete lack of any testimony from any self-proclaimed “unable to vote” voters, but again, I haven’t read the opinion yet. I’ll get to it eventually. That he recognized that “missing voters”, in whatever form, is not the same as “people who absolutely would have voted for the plaintiff” is good enough.
I have to assume that at least one of these crybabies will appeal, though the fact that at least a few of the other whiny sore losers dropped their lawsuits on their own gives me some hope. It’s possible we could be litigating this for years to come. Andy Taylor’s gotta pay the rent, you know.
As for that other lawsuit, per the press release from Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee and reporter Jen Rice on Twitter, there’s a pending appeal of a motion by defendant DaSean Jones to dismiss the case. I don’t know why that was handled separately, but I presume Judge Peeples did not want to affect that case. The Press and Houston Landing have more.