Vote tabulations finish with no change to Harris Co. judicial races

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 13, 2008, 1:00pm

The final outcome of two close judicial races in Harris County remained unchanged after provisional ballots were tabulated Thursday.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the final votes gave a few hundred more votes to several Democratic candidates.

After the Nov. 4 general election, Democratic challenger Josefina Muniz Rendon was ahead of Republican state District Judge Elizabeth Ray by only 135 of the 1.1 million votes cast in the race.

After today's adjustment, the Democrat's winning margin was 520 votes.

In the other closest race, Republican state District Judge Joseph "Tad" Halbach's margin over Democrat Goodwille Pierre shrank to 230 votes from 595.

All other county races were not affected by the new vote totals. Democratic challengers defeated 23 Republican judges in the election.

The ballots added Thursday came from about 1,100 overseas voters and about 1,800 cast provisionally by voters whose registrations were not on the rolls by Nov. 4. More than half of the overseas voters, however, used ballots that only allowed votes for president and Congress.

Under federal law, provisional voters' choices were held in limbo while election officials checked whether they had valid voter registrations in the county. Most provisional ballots were rejected.

On Monday, Nov. 10, the Texas Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Harris County voter registrar Paul Bettencourt, a Republican, alleging he delayed verification of provisional ballots.

The Republican chief of a bipartisan ballot board, which made final decisions on which ballots were valid, accused Bettencourt of supplying the board with faulty records. Bettencourt denied the allegations.

The Democrats said they planned to continue with the lawsuit, the Chronicle reported.

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