FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Valerie Phillips McConahay
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 (512) 829-1751
Concerned Voters Contest $132M Dripping Springs ISD Bond Election After Apparent Election Irregularities Surface
DRIPPING SPRINGS, TEX.—This week, Citizens for Excellent Education in Dripping Springs (CEEDS) filed a formal election contest in Hays County district court, alleging that the results of the May 5th election and recount for Dripping Springs Independent School District’s (DSISD) $132 million bond package were not the true outcome of the election, based on the apparent disenfranchisement of dozens of voters due to mistakes in the administration of the election. CEEDS is a Specific Purpose Political Action Committee comprised of DSISD residents and taxpayers that was formed to oppose DSISD’s May 2018 bond, Proposition A.
The current results of the May 5th election recount canvass reflect that the bond passed by 37 votes. However, 51 qualified DSISD voters residing in Travis County were not notified of the election, and election officials made no provision for them to vote. Moreover, election records reflect that dozens of Hays County voters were assigned to the wrong school district and received voter registration cards that were printed with an incorrect school district listed, including DSISD voters, and taxpayers, who were improperly assigned to Hays CISD and Wimberley ISD. These two groups of voters alone number multiples more than the 37-vote margin of victory. Additionally, discrepancies have been identified in some of the election results; in particular for early voting, there was a discrepancy of eight missing ballots between the unofficial election night results and turnout as announced by Hays County Elections and the official ballots cast tally of the recount canvass.
The suit comes after CEEDS petitioned for, and was granted, a recount of the May 5th bond election results. During the May 15th recount, CEEDS witnessed and objected to multiple procedural violations. These violations made it impossible to ensure that every ballot was present and that every vote was properly counted. The recount also brought to light new and alarming facts regarding the misadministration of the May 5th election. Notable among these violations was that DSISD and Hays County Elections did not create or maintain ballots by precinct which prevented the recount committee from tallying votes by precinct on the recount reports and from filing the bond measure’s election returns by precinct with the Texas Secretary of State, both as required and specifically prescribed by Texas Election Law. DSISD Board of Trustees President Carrie Fontana-Kroll supervised the recount as prescribed under statute.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the membership of CEEDS, including its Executive Director, Valerie Phillips McConahay, and Grassroots Engagement Director, Ashley Whittenberger.
The plaintiffs are represented by Jerad Najvar of Houston-based Najvar Law Firm, which specializes in election-related litigation. “This election proves again that every vote matters—every qualified voter deserves the opportunity to cast a free and fair ballot, and every ballot cast in good order must be counted,” said Najvar. “We are asking the Court to order a new election so that the dozens of voters who were apparently disenfranchised can have the opportunity to vote before the district issues more than $130 million in new debt that will be leveraged against their homes and paid for by their property taxes.”
The case is McConahay v. Kroll, No. 18-1415, pending in Hays County district court. By statute, a visiting judge from outside any county that contains any part of DSISD will be appointed to hear the case.
Citizens for Excellent Education in Drippings Springs (CEEDS) is a Specific Purpose Political Action Committee formed in April 2018 to oppose DSISD’s $132 million bond proposal, Proposition A. CEEDS is comprised of DSISD voters and taxpayers who believe that quality in the classroom should be DSISD's top priority and that excellent education can be accomplished without resorting to out-of-control spending and runaway property tax increases that bust household budgets and put hard-working families and fixed-income seniors at risk of being taxed out of their homes.
Jerad Najvar specializes in litigation and appeals in election and constitutional matters, and is founder of Najvar Law Firm, PLLC in Houston. He secured a new election after prevailing in an election contest in Hidalgo County in 2014, and is currently litigating a challenge to the City of Houston’s billion-dollar pension obligation bond election held in November 2017.
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