In the fight against local Democrat election officials to prevent voter fraud before the election is over, Dallas County Republicans won one and lost another in court on Thursday. But the Dallas GOP’s attorney says voters should be asking why they’re having to fight the county to protect election integrity.

Dallas County’s Republican Party sought, and won, a restraining order against the Democrat official in charge of verifying mail-in ballots before they’re opened and counted. Signature Verification Committee Chairman Russell Miller, who is also a Dallas County employee, had been blocking members of the committee and poll watchers from taking notes during the mail-ballot review process.

“It is troubling that the statutory rights of poll watchers were impeded and interfered with,” Dallas County Republican Party Chairwoman Missy Shorey said in a statement Friday. “This is clear proof that Democrats have intentionally and unlawfully thwarted efforts by Republicans to defend the integrity of this crucial midterm election. “

The DCRP also sought a temporary restraining order against Dallas County’s Democrat elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole to delay opening about 2,400 mail ballots submitted for the November election. Republican review committee members had flagged the ballots as questionable, including at least 20 signed by disgraced Democrat ex-State Rep. Terri Hodge as an “assistant.”

In limited circumstances, persons are allowed to assist voters in completing and mailing mail-in ballots. Hodge, who served a year in prison for for felony tax evasion in connection with a Dallas bribery scandal, raised red flags about whether her participation as an “assistant” was lawful.

Judge Gena Slaughter, also a Democrat, heard the case and declined to order the ballots sequestered and reviewed separately before being opened and counted.

Dallas County GOP General Counsel Elizabeth Alvarez told Texas Scorecard she thinks the judge gave them a fair hearing, but she questions why the Dallas County district attorney’s office and the county elections administrator are fighting the ballot sequestration effort in the first place.

“The biggest question Dallas County voters should be asking themselves is why are we having this conversation at all,” Alvarez said.

The judge reasoned that if the county appealed a TRO to delay opening the ballots, then the order would be overturned. But why would they appeal, Alvarez asked. “Why does the county hire Democrat partisan lawyers to object to looking into voter fraud on behalf of the elections administrator and the chair of the committee, whose job it is to stop it?”

“Why don’t they care about protecting your vote?”

Judge Slaughter said the only remedy for voter fraud taking place in this election cycle is to challenge the results in court with election contests. Three Texas elections have been contested and overturned this year due to mail-ballot fraud.

“This ruling prevents any preemptive and proactive actions to stop election fraud before the election,” Shorey said, noting that “known vote harvesters are active yet again” in 2018.

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.

“Republican efforts to ensure election integrity are necessary since election officials are actively denying participants’ rights,” Shorey concluded. “Unfortunately, it takes us going to court to protect our rights.”

Early voting ends Friday, November 2. Election Day is November 6.

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.