Texas judge overturns result of 2022 judicial race, orders new election

A judge in Texas this week brought some much-needed resolution to a dispute regarding a local election held in November of 2022.

As Houston Public Media reports, visiting judge David Peeples overturned the results of that year's contest for 180th District Court in Harris County and ordered that a new election be held.

Challenge upheld

The underlying controversy began when incumbent Judge DeSean Jones triumphed over Republican Tami Pierce in the aforementioned race, an outcome that led to ongoing legal challenges.

Because the margin by which Jones won was a mere 449 votes, Pierce filed suit in January 2023, alleging that his victory was the result of “improper and likely illegal votes that render the purported outcome incorrect and invalid,” as ABC affiliate KTRK noted.

Among the 21 GOP hopefuls who contested the result of their 2022 races, the one between Jones and Pierce had been decided by the least number of votes.

Peeples had also been responsible for hearing the other disputed races, ultimately granting summary judgment to the Democratic defendants in 15 of those matters. In four other instances, the plaintiffs' claims were dismissed, and in once case that went to trial, an election contest was eventually denied.

“True outcome” proves elusive

In the wake of a two-day bench trial, Peeples found that 1,430 illegal ballots had been cast in the election at issue.

He also determined that “it is not realistic or feasible to determine which candidate received those votes.”

The judge discovered that 983 votes came from individuals residing outside of Harris County, six were in the form of provisional ballots that should not have been tallied, 48 mail ballots had signature defects or were not timely submitted, and 445 were cast by individuals who did not present sufficient identification.

Furthermore, an extra hour of voting resulting “from an official mistake by Harris County Elections Administration Office” yielded a net margin of 321 votes in favor of Jones, adding to the intractable nature of the uncertainty.

As such, Peepeles declared, “The court renders judgment that a new election shall be held for the office of Judge of the 180th District Court of Harris County.”

Reactions pour in

Soon after the ruling was issued, Cindy Siegel, chair of the Harris County Republican Party urged the Secretary of State's Office to act with all due haste in scheduling a new election.

Sigel added, “This decision is monumental and makes it clear to anyone running elections in the state of Texas that if they don't follow the letter of the law, there will be consequences,” and she expressed her relief that Harris County voters “can now have some faith restored in our electoral processes.”

Paul Simpson, the attorney representing Pierce in the case, was similarly pleased with the outcome, saying, “We are gratified by the court's judgement that Tami Pierce deserves a new election. Voluminous, detailed evidence compiled by witness Steve Carlin and dozens of other volunteers revealed many problems with Harris County's troubled November 2022 election,” also noting that the judge's award of more than $65,000 in attorney's fees was a most welcome aspect of the ruling.