Samuels files election protest in district court

Published 6:22 pm Monday, June 20, 2011

Julia Samuels, a former Port Arthur Independent trustee who lost her bid for a seat on the board in May is officially contesting the May 14 election.

Samuels on Monday filed a petition in Jefferson County District Court alleging the election was riddled with irregularities, and that her rights as a candidate were violated.

“I would like to see the election overturned, and to have another election, and do this one right, not right by my version, but right by the law,” Samuels said Monday.

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Samuels is alleging in her petition that city of Port Arthur election administrators failed to obtain proper signatures when entering into a contract with Electronic Hart Inter Civic, a company that supplies voting equipment.

During an accuracy test of the company’s equipment, three predominately black precincts were omitted, while others were split, Samuels said.

The omission was racially motivated, she said.

In her petition, Samuels said the city’s mayor openly campaigned for candidates. She is also concerned that area pastors endorsed the same candidates as a political action group that donated $1,500 to candidates of their choice.

The petition states that the final election results were not made available to the general public until 11:23 p.m. on election night, and that two types of voting machines used during the election confused voters. Approximately 123 people did not vote because of mistrust of the machines and the Port Arthur voting system, she said.

Samuels said the voting irregularities cost her the election.

“I am very upset about this, and I hate to have to do it,” she said. “If the election is overturned, and we have to go back to another election and all the things I addressed is adhered to and I still lose, I will be very happy, and I know the people of Port Arthur will be too.”

Of the four candidates seeking two PAISD board of trustee seats, Samuels came in last with 13.99 percent of the votes casts during the May 15 school board election.

The city of Port Arthur election officials could not be reached for comment Monday.