3-votes-shy can­di­date sues for new elec­tion

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Claire Os­born cos­born@states­man.com Rusty Bryson’s law­suit claims bal­lot ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in Jarrell school board loss. Con­tact Claire Os­born at 2460040.

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.

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