Harris County Education Officials File Lawsuit Over Botched Election
by: Carrie Feibel, July 20, 2012 5:07:00 pm
You may not have heard of the Harris County Department of Education, but it has a current budget of $90 million. It provides educational services all over the county.
John Sawyer is the superintendant.
“We do a lot of things. We do about 25 percent of the adult education in this county, we do about 25 percent of the Head Start in this county.”
Property taxes help support the district, and there’s a seven-member elected board.
Unfortunately, during the May 29 primary election for the board, the district boundaries were incorrect. The boundaries were supposed to be updated this year, and they weren’t.
Sawyer says people may have voted in the wrong district.
“Many people voted who were not supposed to vote and many people were not afforded the opportunity to vote in these races who should have been.”
The Department has filed a federal lawsuit to throw out the primary results and schedule a new election in November.
It only affects two of the seven seats, but Sawyer says starting all over is necessary, otherwise losing candidates might sue over the results.
Don Sumners is the outgoing County Tax Assessor-Collector. He admits his office failed to update the ballots to incorporate the new boundaries.
“We should have caught it. There’s really no reason we shouldn’t have caught it.”
Sumners has been named in the lawsuit, along with the county clerk and the county as a whole
The candidates who may have to run again in November include Jarvis Johnson, a former Houston councilman, and Erica Lee, the daughter of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.