Dallas Republicans are once again battling local Democrats to stop voter fraud. They were in court today seeking a temporary restraining order against Dallas County’s Democrat elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole to delay opening of suspicious mail ballots, which was scheduled to begin at 7:00 a.m.

Lawyers for the Dallas County Republican Party asked a judge to sequester about 2,400 mail ballots submitted for the November election that GOP ballot board members identified as questionable. They also flagged 20 mail ballots signed by disgraced ex-state representative Terri Hodge as an “assistant.”

Hodge, a Democrat, pleaded guilty in 2010 to felony tax evasion in a Dallas bribery scandal and spent a year in prison. Hodge is prohibited from running for public office but continues to assist mail-ballot voters.

Judge Gena Slaughter, also a Democrat, is hearing the case. Slaughter delayed today’s hearing for 24 hours to allow the DCRP to present additional evidence with its amended TRO request, and to give Pippins-Poole time to secure representation. Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson, a Republican, has recused herself from the proceedings.

Without a TRO, Democrat election officials will be free to move forward with opening the ballots in question. Once opened, ballots are separated from their envelopes and cannot be retrieved if the ballot later proves to be fraudulent.

The DCRP is also seeking court action against Russell Miller, Democrat chair of the Signature Review Committee. Last week, DCRP General Counsel Elizabeth Alvarez served Miller with a cease and desist letter demanding Miller follow state election law and allow Republican ballot board members and poll watchers to fully observe the mail ballot review process and take notes. Pippins-Poole also allegedly blocked poll watchers from observing the process.

It is unclear whether the DA’s office will sign a Rule 11 agreement to sequester the questionable ballots until after the election.

Mail ballot voter fraud is a persistent problem in Dallas County. One person has been sent to jail for voter fraud in an ongoing investigation of illegal mail ballot harvesting in recent Dallas elections.

Updated at 12:25 p.m. This is a developing story.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.