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HD105 recount lawsuit moves to federal court

As the official recount in HD105 gets underway, the Texas Democratic Party has filed a new lawsuit in federal court to require that so-called “emphasis votes” be counted.

The Texas Democratic Party filed a federal voting-rights lawsuit against Dallas County elections officials, accusing them of violating federal laws by not counting certain votes from electronic voting machines in the recount.

“Win or lose, this has always been about protecting Texans’ votes,” state Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie said in a prepared statement. “We need to make absolutely sure that every legal vote is counted, as anything less amounts to disenfranchisement and cannot be allowed to stand.”

Republicans accused their counterparts of manipulative legal maneuvering.

“Their motivation is not to have valid votes counted,” said Wade Emmert, a Republican attorney. “Their motivation is to take away the voice of those who have already voted.”

In the federal suit, Democrats ask for a temporary restraining order that would require county elections officials to count for each candidate the straight-party votes on electronic voting machines not tallied during the initial count. As an alternative, the lawsuit asks a federal court to void the Nov. 4 results and order a new election for the seat, which has statewide political ramifications.

The previous lawsuit was thrown out of state court by Dallas District Court Judge Jim Jordan, who ruled in response to a motion filed by the Republican Party that he did not have jurisdiction. I still disagree the TDP’s arguments in this case. What I’d ultimately like to see result from this is better and more uniform standards for electronic voting machine interfaces, so that any confusion about the nature of straight party ballots can be minimized, and for the machines to be required to print out a paper receipt, with the allowance that you can still make changes to your selections after you’ve had a chance to inspect the receipt. That’s up to the Lege, and it won’t happen any time soon, if ever. I’m hoping this will be a catalyst.

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