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GOP Claims Illegal Ballot Counting

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(cc) David A G Wilson (flickr.com)
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Texas House of Representatives

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-788797.mp3

Dallas – Republicans are accusing a Democratic ballot board judge in Dallas County of illegally certifying votes in a race that could determine control of the Texas House of Representatives. The charges came during the counting of provisional ballots in the District 105 race.

When the Dallas County ballot board began the day-long process of considering 231 provisional ballots, Republican Incumbent Linda Harper-Brown had a slim 29 vote edge over Democrat Bob Romano. In a hallway outside the closed proceeding, lead judge Chorsia Davis, a Democrat, briefed attorneys from both political parties about the rules for observing the count. Republicans didn't like her tone.

Davis: If there is any question about anything ask me. I get the last vote on everything. I don't care how many people voted on it. It all comes to me and I'm the one who signs off last.

Republicans began to grumble. A count of overseas ballots by the bipartisan board initially extended Harper-Brown's lead to 34 votes. But Dallas County Republican Chair Jonathan Neerman said that good news was overshadowed by what he claims his attorney and poll watchers saw Judge Davis doing.

Neerman: She is ignoring the election code. She is ignoring the advice of the elections department, and in some instances we are hearing she is using white out to change some votes in the ballot board room.

Republicans also claimed Davis was counting ballots cast by residents from other counties.

Dallas Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing defended Davis, claiming the charges were just a symptom of the high stakes involved. If Harper-Brown loses, the Republicans go from holding a majority in the House to having the same number of seats as Democrats.

Ewing: In something this serious and this close, any sort of sniff that I don't agree with you, you are going to claim impropriety. But she's giving votes the credit they deserve.

Finally, Judge Chorsia Davis emerged to defend her work.

Davis: I follow all the rules.

Reporter: Did you white out any names?

Davis: No, I didn't white out any names.

Reporter: Did you certify anybody from Collin County or counties other than Dallas?

Davis: No, only Dallas County.

Reporter: What do you think about this?

Davis: I just can't say what people think. But I was doing the right thing.

At the end of counting, Republican Harper Brown was still ahead, but now her lead over Romano had been cut from 34 to 20. Democrat Ewing then set the stage for what may be weeks of uncertainty. She said a formal recount of all District 105 ballots will be considered.

Ewing: Because it's still a very close race and anything can happen.

Meanwhile, Republicans say they will file a formal complaint against Judge Davis.