The March 1 election results in the race for Pct. 4 commissioner in Liberty County were voided in a hearing held on Monday, April 11, in the 253rd State District Court with the Honorable Judge Michael Mayes presiding. Judge Mayes, who presides over the 410th State District Court in Montgomery County, was appointed by Judge Olen Underwood, the presiding judge for the Second Administrative Judicial Region of Texas.
Mayes’ ruling means that incumbent Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson still faces a challenge from candidate and former county judge Craig McNair. The two candidates finished the March 1 election with a razor thin finish. Wilson received five more votes than McNair after all the ballots and provisional ballots were counted.
The election was voided after it was determined that there were some issues that had arisen that prevented some Pct. 4 voters from casting a ballot in the race and allowed others, who lived outside the precinct, to vote in the Pct. 4 election. These issues appear to have been caused by the new redistricting boundaries.
Redistricting is performed every 10 years based on the U.S. Census results. For Liberty County, the objective was to divide the county’s four road and bridge precincts into equal size based on population with each having roughly 21,749 residents.
Working with the law firm of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP, Liberty County officials determined new lines for the county’s four road and bridge precincts. The new map for Liberty County was approved by commissioners last October and sailed through the hearing process in November without opposition.
In areas of high growth, like in Cleveland, the new redistricting lines created a smaller land mass with a higher concentration of voters. In normal years, the redistricting process moves slower. However, this year was exceptionally challenging due to delays in the release of U.S. Census numbers, which were pushed back much later than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once the new precincts were mapped out, the Liberty County Elections Administration Office had the laborious task of notifying voters of their new precincts and determining the precinct in which a voter lives and votes.
During the hearing on Monday, numerous witnesses were called to testify in the case, including other elected officials.
As of yet, there is no date for when new election will be held. The judge ordered the attorneys for both Wilson and McNair to first draft up an order to present to him.