The Austin Chronicle

UPDATE: Pressley Files Election Contest

By Michael King, January 30, 2015, 4:30pm, Newsdesk

On Jan. 29, defeated District 4 City Council candidate Laura Pressley filed a formal election contest to confirm or overturn the results of the Dec. 16 run-off against Council Member Greg Casar. Pressley lost the run-off by 1,290 votes, a recount she requested confirmed those results, and her complaints filed with the Secretary of State were rejected.

UPDATE 4:30pm: District 4 Council Member Greg Casar – cited as the responding "Contestee" in Pressley's election contest filed with the Travis County district court, issued the following statement this afternoon in response to the filing: “Since taking office earlier this month, I’ve been focused on the issues that District 4 voters elected me to work on: creating good job opportunities, addressing our cost of living, investing in education and literacy, and finding solutions to our traffic and public safety issues. Yesterday, I was proud to collaborate with my Council colleagues in creating a historic new Council committee structure that will improve public participation in local government. I look forward to continuing this work for the constituents in my district and Austin as a whole.”

Earlier post: According to a press release Pressley issued Thursday night, she claims “anomalies” in the results, and more specifically: “This contest is based on a) deprivation of voting rights of voters in two high population polling locations which were improperly closed, b) irregularity in votes counted or not counted, and c) a failure to comply with the Texas Election Code requirement as it relates to printing “images of ballots cast” for the recount.”

In her district court petition, Pressley claims that two polling locations were improperly moved or consolidated for the run-off, that some votes were not accurately counted – a repeated claim that she has persistently declined to document – and that the computerized Hart Voting System used in the election did not enable literal “images of ballots cast” to be manually recounted, but only “cast vote records” (i.e., database records of votes cast). She is asking the court either to determine revised results or “order a new election that fully complies with the Texas Election Code and the Secretary of State election procedures.”

Pressley also says her contest is not directed at Casar, because “We need him working really hard for us on the dais. … Our contest is related to the fact that the numbers need to add up.” She also says she is filing this contest “upon recommendation from the Secretary of State.” In fact, in rejecting all her previous complaints – saying they involved no evidence of “criminal matters” that would be required for an investigation by the Attorney General – Director of Elections Keith Ingram informed Pressley that her only potential remedies were either an election contest or persuading the Legislature to change state election law.

Concluded Pressley, "Our elections are the bedrock of our democracy and as a candidate, I have observed irregularities in our results. I am asking some hard questions that may not be popular. The good news is that we have decided to deal with these discrepancies head on, and upon recommendation from the Secretary of State, we are taking them to district court for resolution."

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