A response from Narvaez has been added to the bottom of this story.
On Thursday, after four days of waiting, the Dallas County Elections office updated the totals in last Saturday's District 6 City Council race to include 387 of the 426 ballots that were sequestered on election day. The new ballots changed some totals but not the outcome: Incumbent Monica Alonzo, credited with 189 of the disputed ballots, will face Dallas County Schools Board member Omar Narvaez, who collected 146 votes from the withheld ballots, in a June 10 runoff.
Narvaez did not return a request for an interview for this story, but Jose Plata, a former Dallas ISD board member and Alonzo spokesman, said Thursday that he believes the Narvaez campaign stole votes during the first round of voting. Plata added that this will likely continue in the runoff.
"All of the trails lead to our opponent in terms of the bad ballots that are going to be taken and reviewed," says Plata, who's been observing at Dallas County election headquarters this week. "A lot of those that were held back and were not counted and that probably were because of the falsification of names [on ballots that] were not requested by the actual voter."
Plata claims that the Narvaez campaign bullied senior citizens in District 6 into filling out applications for absentee ballots, and then came around again once ballots showed up in the mail. "That was an abuse of them, because that was handled in such a way by whoever went out and abused the situation. The applications were written on their behalf. Their names were forged, and then they received a ballot in the mail after the elections department received the application," Plata says. "People were then tormented in all kinds of ways in the field after the ballots were released, because someone let them know when the ballots were going to be hitting."
Plata emphasized the effort was organized and sustained. "They were out there in the field, going to people's houses and not being polite in many instances, lying, threatening, coercing, all kinds of things to get the green [ballot] envelopes," he said. "This will occur again because not only did they check a calendar box, they checked runoff. All of these are going out once more."
In court documents filed to sequester the ballots, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office said that each of the voters requesting the ballots could be traced back to someone who "signs his name Jose Rodriguez." Rodriguez, which the district attorney's office believes is a pseudonym, signed his name to hundreds of applications for mail-in ballots, attesting that he helped the person requesting the ballot apply for it.
The district attorney and county elections office pledged to investigate the ballots tied to Rodriguez, but ended up throwing out less than a handful of votes.
In addition to the 426 ballots sequestered in District 6 on election day, 245 ballots were held back from District 2, which was won handily by Adam Medrano. Of the 671 total ballots impounded, 40 were thrown out, Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Andy Chatham told reporters outside a Dallas County District courtroom Monday, because the person who sent the ballot in showed up on election day and cast his or her ballot at the polls, canceling his or her mail in ballot.
That leaves 631 outstanding ballots. Take away the 387 ballots that have been added to totals in District 6 and the 241 ballots that've been added to totals in District 2, and you're left with three ballots that, for whatever reason, didn't make it onto the final count.
The Observer asked the Dallas County Elections administrator about the three missing votes Thursday afternoon, but hadn't heard back as of late Thursday evening.
To sum up. the Alonzo campaign believes that her opponent, coordinated the three, seemingly unverified ballots that went uncounted in District 6. Narvaez also, according to Plata, got away with cheating on ballots that were counted, even though those ballots favored Alonzo by the nearly the same 11 point margin (48-37) that ballots recorded before Thursday did (39-27).
Should be a fun runoff.
Update: May 12, 3:30 p.m. — Omar Narvaez issued the following statement Friday afternoon, blaming the Alonzo campaign for the ballot snafus: “There is a long history of mail ballot abuses in District 6 that have benefited the incumbent. With many candidates in the May election, it was not clear who was behind the recent discrepancies, but now it is apparent after seeing the results that my opponent is behind the fraudulent activities in our neighborhoods."
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