Politics & Government

April 4, 2014

Judge denies Burnam’s request to see mail-in ballot applications

Incumbent in Texas House District 90 plans to appeal judge’s ruling turning down his request to see applications for mail-in ballots that were made before the March primary.

State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, lost the first round in his effort to reclaim House District 90.

Last month, after Burnam lost the Democratic primary by 111 votes to local businessman Ramon Romero Jr., he filed a suit claiming that potentially illegal ballots were cast.

On Friday, during a hearing in the 48th District Court, state District Judge Robert McFarling of Denton turned down Burnam’s request that county election officials release all the applications that workers received for mail-in ballots in this race.

Burnam’s lawsuit alleges that some voters in the district were approached by campaign workers who asked them to fill out applications to vote by mail on an electronic device such as an iPad.

He said he wanted to review the applications because he believes “these documents and other testimony will establish beyond question that the computerized-signature operation was illegal and that I won the election.”

Ann Diamond with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office argued against releasing all the applications, saying they are not publicly available and they include private information.

Attorney Art Brender, former chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, maintained the records are public information and what he has reviewed already shows that at least three people may have voted twice — once in early voting and once on election day.

A review of all the applications could show even more problems and potentially invalidate enough ballots to flip the election results, he said.

After a 1 1/2-hour hearing Friday, McFarling declined to order the release of the applications.

Brender said he will appeal the ruling.

Romero said Friday’s decision is good news.

“I’m happy with the way this is going,” he said.

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