courthouse

KAUFMAN COUNTY, Texas — A visiting judge has ordered a new summer election in the race for Kaufman County Court at Law after an election contest and trial this week to hear evidence of alleged voter fraud and ballot harvesting.

Visiting Judge Martin Lowy made his ruling Friday morning after opening and reviewing nine provisional ballots that were originally rejected in the election between incumbent Dennis Jones and challenger Tracy Gray.

Lowy also threw out five other mail-in ballots after hearing testimony of alleged ballot harvesting.

The new election is set for July 21, 2018. Additional details on the new election, including early voting schedules, polling locations, and if certain voters will be eligible, will be released at a later time.

As votes began to tally on election day, Gray led early voting by 2,989 to 2,977 votes and election day voting by 2,227 to 2,096 votes. In absentee ballots, Jones led 404 to 260, enough for a one vote lead.

A recount was later conducted and focused on the unconventional ballots such as, among others, absentee ballots, provisional ballots that were accepted by the ballot board, mail-in ballots, or otherwise "spoiled ballots" that were rejected by a voting machine, and did not recount votes successfully submitted by a voting machine.

After the recount, Jones' one-vote lead remained.

On Wednesday, Lowy ruled that one provisional vote, which had been entered into evidence, be counted — resulting in an additional vote for Gray and a tie in the election.

No determination could be made for the five ballots that were thrown out, therefore, the vote remained unchanged with this action.

On Friday, the court reviewed the nine provisional ballots which were not originally approved by the Kaufman County ballot board — three were thrown out, four were counted for Gray, and two were counted for Jones.

In considering the provisional ballots, Lowy, citing case law, stated Gray would need to lead by a margin of more than three votes to be named an outright winner in the election.