3-votes-shy candidate sues for new election
GEORGETOWN — A woman who lost a Jarrell school board race by three votes in a botched election filed a lawsuit Monday asking a judge to order a new election.
Rusty Bryson received 149 votes in the Nov. 6 election while her opponent, Tookie Mullen, received 152 votes. Election judges gave the wrong ballots to as many as 200 people, the lawsuit said, which prevented some of them from voting.
Election officials confirmed in November that the judges in Jarrell had five styles of ballots to choose from and sometimes selected the wrong ones.
State law says that a losing candidate who wants a judge to order a new election must sue the winner, so after several weeks of deliberation, Bryson filed the lawsuit against Mullen.
Mullen, who was the incumbent, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
A new election would cost about $10,000 plus a 10 per- cent administrative fee, said Rick Barron, the elections administrator for Williamson County. A judge could order election costs to be split by the county and the school district, or require that just one of the entities pay the total cost, Barron said.
According to the lawsuit, between 20 and 200 voters could have received the wrong ballot on Election Day.
Election judges had the correct ballots but overlooked them early in the day and “continued to hand out the wrong ballot even after they were informed of the mistake,” the lawsuit said.
Paper ballots were also not secured in a locked box as required because officials were not able to operate the ballot box, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also claims that “at least one election official was not properly trained.”
Barron said Monday that the lawsuit claim about a lack of training is “totally false.” Both election judges went through several hours of training, which included the fact that there were different ballot styles in the election, he said.
One of the election judges, Ellen McClean, said in a previous interview that it was the first time Jarrell had multiple ballots and she wasn’t informed about them in training.
“Nobody feels more horrible about this than the other judge and I do,” she said.
Barron, who previously told the American-Statesman that election workers gave the wrong ballot to the first 100 voters on Election Day, said Monday that he misspoke. He now says most of those people received the correct ballot and only 15 to 20 people received the wrong ballot from election workers.
A trial likely would not take place until January.