A Texas judge threw out the results of a recent Democrat runoff race for a justice of the peace seat in Kleberg County, ruling seven votes cast were invalid. He ordered a new election must be held.
Breitbart Texas reported that Democrat challenger Ofelia “Ofie” Gutierrez contested the results of the May 22 primary runoff race against Democrat incumbent Esequiel “Cheque” De La Paz for Kleberg County Justice of the Peace in District 4. Gutierrez originally lost by seven votes. She requested a recount but lost again by six votes, 318 to 312. Then, on June 8, Gutierrez sued De La Paz, alleging voter fraud.
This week, visiting Judge Joel Johnson heard arguments from attorneys for Gutierrez and De La Paz in the 105th District Court. Frank Alvarez, representing Gutierrez, argued that five adults registered to vote used De La Paz’s home address and two others did not live in Kleberg County. He contended the seven questionable votes were cast by individuals related to De La Paz or connected to his immediate family members.
The Kingsville Record reported the attorney for De La Paz, Natasha Torres, maintained in court that Gutierrez was entitled to challenge the election results but Gutierrez’s subsequent actions in filing suit was because “she wasn’t happy” about her defeat.
“If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” said Torres during the hearing. She remarked that even with the recount, Gutierrez lost by six votes. “She lost fair and square.”
Alvarez countered that De La Paz was concerned to find himself in a primary runoff election for an office he has held for more than 20 years. “What this proves, your honor, is the extent a family will go to continue on this position,” said Alvarez, who implied De La Paz did not “win fairly” and resorted to cheating.
On Tuesday, Johnson ruled there was enough evidence to show voter fraud. He determined that the individuals in question did not reside in District 4 of Kleberg County and invalidated the May 22 election results.
In response, Gutierrez’s lawyer said he hoped Johnson’s ruling will result in people thinking twice about voting fraudulently.
Torres issued a prepared statement on behalf of De La Paz. It stated: “Truly we just want to say ‘Thank you’ to all of our friends, family, and fellow community members for their aid throughout this entire process.” The family also asked for “their continued love and support” in the upcoming election.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a national election integrity law firm, commented on the judge’s decision to toss the Kleberg County JP runoff results and order a new election. They tweeted: “seven bad votes determined winner/loser. Anyone who argues some fraud is inevitable and the cost of doing democracy is complicit.”
SEVEN bad votes determined winner/loser. Anyone who argues some fraud is inevitable and the cost of doing democracy is complicit.
— PublicInterestLegal (@PILFoundation) June 28, 2018
According to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, Kleberg County Clerk Stephanie Garza said the Texas Election Code requires the new election is held by August, but no date is currently set. Garza said she awaited word from the Texas Secretary of State’s office on how best to move forward with the ordered election.
No Republican candidate ran on the other side of this JP race. The winner of the Democrat do-over primary election will run unopposed for the Precinct 4 in November.
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