One more whiny election loser lawsuit

I know, we all thought we were done with these.

Nearly five months after Harris County’s November 2022 election results were upheld in court, another unsuccessful Republican judicial candidate laid out a similar set of facts before the same judge in the same downtown Houston courtroom on Monday, seeking a different outcome.

This time, the case hinges on whether the judge can be persuaded to order a new election in a race with a much narrower vote margin.

Tami Pierce, like another 20 GOP candidates for Harris County offices, filed a lawsuit challenging the results of the 2022 midterm elections, which were marred by a ballot paper shortage on election day that impaired voting at around 20 out of 782 polling locations.

Though Judge David Peeples, a visiting judge from Bexar County who has presided over the entire group of lawsuits, has previously upheld results in other races, this lawsuit for the 180th District Court seat could swing in the other direction because Pierce’s opponent, incumbent Democrat Judge DaSean Jones, defeated her by just 449 out of over 1 million votes cast.

Peeples ruled last November that while he found “many mistakes and violations of the Election Code,” there were not enough votes in doubt to justify ordering a new election in the 189th District Court race, which GOP candidate Erin Lunceford lost to Democrat Judge Tamika Craft by 2,743 votes.

Peeples upheld results in 15 cases for the same reasons, while another three candidates dropped their lawsuits before his ruling. Lunceford’s case is currently on appeal.

Pierce finally got her day in court on Monday – the last case to go before the judge despite having the closest margin. The case was separated from the others and set on a delayed track after Jones filed a motion that was meant to deter meritless lawsuits.

See here for the last update, which was the ruling in the previous batch of lawsuits. The plaintiff’s case in this one is more or less the same as before – I drafted this on Monday night but didn’t see any further updates on Tuesday – so it’s basically whether the judge thinks maybe this election could have been affected, if the same claims about “missing” votes are considered to be factual. If they are, I’ll note that loser Tami Pierce would still need to win about 58% of those missing votes in order to make up that 449-vote deficit; it’s just below 58% if we believe every one of those people would have voted in that race, and just above 58% if we assume an undervote rate of 3.5%, which is what it was for the other ballots in the 180th Civil District Court election.

Now, if you could name all 2,891 missing voters and determine where they lived and what their race and ethnicity and class and education and past voting histories were, you could imagine a pool of that size in an election that was otherwise almost uniformly Democratic that might have voted 58% or more for a Republican. But of course we can’t do that because (whoops!) the Republican plaintiffs and their lawyers and enablers were never able to find any actual voters who could credibly claim that the temporary loss of the printer at their voting location meant they were completely unable to vote at any time or any other location in Harris County. So given that, we have to ask what are the odds that a random group of 2,891 voters in Harris County would be 58% Republican. That question answers itself.

Does that make this a slam dunk for the defendant? Well no – if it were, surely the judge would have strongly entertained a motion to dismiss by now, to save us all the trouble. I don’t know what the judge will do – I thought he was a little histrionic in his original ruling, even if he got the answer correct – but this is the math. You tell me what the odds are.

Oh and by the way, while this was the closest race won by a Democrat, it wasn’t the closest race from the 2022 election. That would be the race for County Criminal Court #3, in which Democrat Porsha Brown lost to Republican Leslie Johnson by 267 votes, a bit more than half the margin in the contested Jones/Pierce race. But you haven’t ever heard of that race, because Porsha Brown didn’t file a whiny sore loser election lawsuit. She accepted the outcome of the election, as one does. Just so we’re clear about that.

UPDATE: And here’s the Chron story from day two, which reports that plaintiff Pierce is trying to get a bunch of people’s votes thrown out, which is a change in strategy from the original set of lawsuits. Still reprehensible, but at least it’s not a rerun.

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