Texas Supreme Court Denies Suit Alleging Republican Poll Watchers Were Turned Away

Poll watchers appointed by Texas Republicans were told to leave the elections department headquarters when they showed up to watch the mail-in ballot count on Nov. 7, the dead-in-the-water suit claimed.
Poll watchers appointed by Texas Republicans were told to leave the elections department headquarters when they showed up to watch the mail-in ballot count on Nov. 7, the dead-in-the-water suit claimed. Getty Images
As President Donald Trump and his supporters continue to cry "fraud" in response to his inevitable election loss, the Texas Supreme Court this week declined to take up a case filed against the Dallas County Elections Department for allegedly turning away Republican poll watchers.

Three poll watchers appointed by U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden and Rodney Anderson, chair of the Dallas County Republican Party, were told to leave the department's headquarters when they showed up to watch the mail-in ballot count on Nov. 7.

Gooden could not be reached for comment.

"I’m filing a lawsuit this weekend against the Democratic incompetence/crooks [sic] running Dallas County elections because they’ve continually kicked my poll watchers out of the counting room and did so again today during the counting of mail-in ballots," Gooden said in a statement on social media. "Many candidates are afraid to fight ballot fraud after they lose because they don’t want to be called sore losers, and the fraud just continues."

Gooden won his race, so he happily calls himself a "sore winner" in filing his suit.

When the Republicans heard the Dallas County Ballot Board would be meeting that morning, they sent their three poll watchers to keep tabs on the signature verification committee, which they understood would be reviewing ballots until later that afternoon.

Brian Bessellieu was the first of the three poll watchers to arrive that day. He followed the committee members into the room where they were meeting. He has his poll watcher nametag on and his poll watching form in hand.

But, the suit says, when Ballot Board Judge Alan Coleman asked Bessellieu who he was with, he was asked to leave immediately. Scott Gray, one of the attorneys representing the Republicans in the suit, said Bessellieu was not given a reason for being asked to leave.

The judge told Besselieu to wait in the lobby, but he refused. So, Coleman escorted him out of the building. The suit claimed that on their way out Coleman told Bessellieu that there were ballots for the committee to review.

Outside the gates surrounding the facility were the other two poll watchers, Wes Bowen and Dan Wyde, who the suit claimed were being denied entry to the parking lot. With the three poll watchers together, Coleman told them that while the board and committee had assembled inside, there weren’t any ballots to be reviewed yet. The judge told them that he would come get them when there were.

About 45 minutes later, he returned and told the trio that there weren’t any ballots being reviewed that day and that he sent the committee workers home.

Gray, however, said it doesn’t matter if ballots were being reviewed or not, as the Texas Elections Code authorizes poll watchers “...to observe any activity conducted at the location at which the watcher is serving.” The suit claimed that the board and committee's assembling was the activity conducted that the poll watchers were obstructed from observing.

The Republicans found out Tuesday that the suit was turned down by the court, Gray said. They received an order that stated simply, "The following petition for writ of mandamus is denied." Gray said they are still considering their next move.

Gooden is just one of the Texas Republicans who jumped on the bandwagon spewing unsubstantiated claims of fraud and casting doubt on the results of the presidential election.

Even though there was no blue wave and Trump beat former Vice President Joe Biden with nearly 6% more votes in Texas, this week Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he would cough up as much as $1 million to anyone who can report information of voter fraud that leads to a conviction.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn