Richard to contest PA District 5 election results
Published 5:43 pm Monday, May 18, 2015
Port Arthur is scheduled to swear in new city council members Wednesday, but if the challenging candidate in the District 5 race has his way, that seat won’t be the incumbent’s for long.
Willie “Bae” Lewis narrowly defeated Keith Richard in the May 9 election by a mere five votes, with a vote of 740 to 735.
Because of the closeness of the vote, Richard had originally planned to ask for recount, but has since decided to contest the election altogether.
Richard has 30 days from Wednesday, the date of the local canvass, to contest the election in Jefferson County District Court.
Richard said he decided to contest the election because of discrepancies in the mail-in ballots that lead him to believe enough ballots would be declared invalid to make him the winner.
Additionally, since the election, Richard said he has heard that some voters in District 5 were given the wrong ballot — one that did not have the City Council race on it.
Port Arthur Jim Snell said it happened to him, and he’s still upset at not being able to vote for Richard like he intended.
Snell, 80, resides with his wife Patsy at 3120 Birchwood Triangle.
When he went to cast his ballot during early voting, he said he was not given a ballot with Willie “Bae” Lewis’ or Keith Richard’s name on it.
“ I told the election worker, and he said, ‘no, you are not in the district that can vote in the Lewis and Richard election.’ I told him that I did not understand that because both candidates have signs in lawns all over my street,”
Snell said he asked a second election worker and was told the same thing — that he was not able to vote in the District 5 race.
The workers, he said, advised him to go ahead and cast his ballot for the school board election, which he did.
Snell then went home and called District 6 Councilman Robert E. “Bob” Williamson, who advised him to send his wife down and see if she could vote in the District 5 race.
“The election worker denied that anyone had told me that. They told me if it was not the right ballot, I should not have refused to vote. I told them I did, but they told me to go ahead. I am disgusted about the whole thing,” Snell said. “How in the world can she be in a different district from me. We live in the same house, live in the same bed?
“I am not happy, and feel like I was denied the right to vote, Snell said.”
Richard said he has heard of others with the same problem, and, combined with the number of mail-in ballots that he has examined that look suspicious, he is sure the vote would have been enough to make him the winner.
Richard said he is in the process of hiring an attorney, and plans to file the lawsuit in district court within the 30-day time period.
The Texas Election Code does not give the city’s election administrator jurisdiction to determine whether a vote is valid. All the election administrator can do is recount the votes. A District Court judge can rule on the contested votes.
“I believe contesting it will give me satisfactory results,” he said.