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Harris County Department of Education Alleges Illegal Election Boundaries

By JAMES HOLLINGSWORTH, CBS Houston
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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – In a statement released  by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, The Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas against Harris County officials. The lawsuit alleges that incorrect election boundaries were used for the primary elections for HCDE trustee positions 4 and 6 on May 29th.

The boundaries used, which were adopted in 2001, were declared unconstitutional by Honorable Judge Vanessa Gilmore in Rodriguez v. Harris County through their violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s “one-person, one-vote” requirement.

Gilmore ordered the use of interim boundaries in connection with the 2012 primary elections for county commissioners’ seats, which were used during 2012 commissioner elections. However, despite being aware of the new commissioner precinct boundaries, the Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Don Summers failed to update the boundaries for the HCDE trustee precinct-based elections and the unconstitutional 2001 boundaries were used during HCDE primary elections.

Due to the incorrect boundaries, 27,352 registered voters were denied the opportunity to vote for HCDE trustee position 6, and 34,154 votes for HCDE position 4 were ineligible. These totals account for 17.91% and 15.35% of all registered voters respectively.

HCDE has requested that  the May 29, 2012 primary election for HCDE trustee positions 4 and 6 and the July 31, 2012 Democratic run-off election for HCDE trustee position 6 based on the May 29, 2012 primary election be declared void. HCDE further requests that the Court order a special election to be held in conjunction with the general election in November 2012 for HCDE trustee positions 4 and 6.

The Office of Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has added this litigation to the agenda of an executive session with the Commissioners Court on Tuesday, July 24th.

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