A Tarrant County constable candidate is contesting the results of his primary and calling for a new election, citing more illegal votes counted in the race than the margin of victory.

Adam Hanson ran for Tarrant County Constable Precinct 1 in the March 5 Republican primary against Dale Clark.

Official results showed Clark won by a margin of 47 votes (9,265-9,246), which justified a recount.

A hand recount of over 22,000 ballots cast in the race found that Hanson’s opponent maintained a 19-vote margin but uncovered numerous irregularities.

Hanson filed an election contest on May 16.

“We identified 186 voters who registered too late to vote during the primary and another 77 voters whose registration was in a suspended status and who failed to complete the statement of residence as required by state law before voting,” said attorney Warren Norred of Norred Law, who is representing Hanson.

“We also detailed a dozen improprieties in the election’s operation,” Norred added.

Texas law allows for a redo of a contested election if the true outcome cannot be determined because illegal votes were counted, legal votes were not counted, or election officials made mistakes.

“This election contest seeks to void the previous election, so it can be conducted again, this time without illegal votes and using proper procedures,” said Norred.

Clark is named as the contestee but is not accused of any wrongdoing.

In a recap of the recount that revealed the irregularities, Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Bo French said that the state’s recount process is “badly outdated” and is “complicated by the use of county-wide voting.”

French attributed the small tally discrepancy to “unavoidable” human error.

“This process has reaffirmed the necessity of the use of machines to efficiently tally the results of our elections,” he said. “At the same time, it is essential that we reform our election processes, most importantly by eliminating county-wide voting, so that we can efficiently audit electronically tallied results to ensure the official ballots are being counted consistently and accurately.”

Republican primary candidate Barry Wernick is calling for an end to countywide voting, citing ballot privacy concerns.

Wernick conducted a hand recount of his unsuccessful Texas House District 108 race in Dallas County—not to overturn the election results, but as “an effort to expose flaws, if any, inherent in the current election systems and to protect future elections.”

His recount also confirmed the original results, with a discrepancy of 15 votes out of more than 26,000 hand-tallied ballots. But Wernick contended the process uncovered “numerous polling location ballot boxes with broken or missing chain of custody, missing ballots, additional ballots, and unlawful ballots without judges’ required signatures.”

Norred urged candidates to act quickly when they see improper election operations.

“Courts are slowly waking up to the widespread failure of election administrators to ensure proper operation of elections required by the Texas Election Code,” Norred noted, citing a recently overturned Harris County judicial contest as an example.

Norred added, “State legislators and other interested parties need to recognize that Texas elections are not being run properly, and the general hope that they can just brush it all under the rug is not a long-term strategy.”

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.