Judge upholds 2022 Harris County election results, throws out most GOP lawsuits

Harris County’s 2022 election results were upheld by a judge Thursday night, who also threw out all but one remaining lawsuit from Republican candidates against the county, saying in his ruling that there were not enough disputed votes to merit a new election.

“The court has found many mistakes and violations of the Election Code by the Harris County Elections Administration Office and other election officials,” wrote Judge David Peeples, a retired judge from San Antonio who presided over the case. “But the court holds that not enough votes were put in doubt to justify voiding the election for the189th District Court and ordering a new one.”

Republican candidate Erin Lunceford filed a lawsuit last December asking for a new election in the 189th judicial district court race after she lost to Democrat Tamika Craft by 2,743 votes. She argued that people were unable to vote after about 20 voting locations ran out of ballot paper and a variety of difficulties that resulted in polls being kept open an extra hour.

Lunceford’s lawsuit was the first involving the county election results to go to trial.

Initially, 22 losing Republican candidates filed lawsuits contesting their elections. Two candidates previously dropped their suits and Peeples then dismissed the remaining 15 suits on Tuesday. One lawsuit remains in which Republican Tami Pierce is challenging the results of the 180th criminal state district court race where incumbent Democrat DaSean Jones won.

Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee said he was “glad the judge confirmed what we’ve all known for a year now.”

“These Republican candidates lost the 2022 election,” Menefee said in a statement. “We at the county have moved on. Voters have moved on. I hope the Harris County Republican Party will move on, too.”

Andy Taylor, a lawyer for Lunceford, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Over an eight day trial, which included more than a dozen witnesses, 35 depositions and about 120 exhibits, Lunceford’s lawyers argued that in addition to people being prevented from casting their vote, there were also thousands of illegal ballots counted. Craft meanwhile argued that the GOP failed to get testimony from a single voter who was unable to cast a ballot and that their case was built on a stream of non-expert witnesses whose allegations about voting irregularities fell apart under scrutiny, according to the Houston Chronicle.

During questioning by Craft’s lawyers, one of Lunceford’s experts admitted he had done “sloppy” work and had been wrong in claiming that some voters had cast illegal ballots, the Associated Press reported.

Peeples estimates 2,891 votes may have potentially been impacted by polling locations running out of paper, improper voter registration and mismatched signatures on mail in ballots. But he said that number likely was not large enough to merit reversing the election.

“The court holds that this number is not large enough to put the true outcome in doubt,” Peeples said. “That is the ultimate question in this case.”

This article first appeared on Houston Landing and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.