Days after state Rep. Lon Burnam filed suit accusing his opponent of obtaining mail-in ballot requests in an illegal manner, a judge denied Burnam’s request to gain access to confidential voter information he said he needed to prove his case.
Friday morning, a judge in Tarrant County District court sided with the election administrator and told Burnam he could not have access to ballots and applications for mail-in ballots.
“It is undisputed - 111 non-fraudlent voters voted for Ramon than voted for Burnam,” Francisco Hernandez, Romero’s co-counsel said. “He’s just upset.”
Burnam said he plans to file his appeal to the decision early next week. "They’re taking a position that I think is contrary to the public interest, because I think it’s in the public’s interest for people to be able to get access to this information, particularly when you have a contested election outcome like we did.”
Romero said he hopes to get the case dismissed as soon as possible. He was not in court. He spent Friday in Austin meeting with lawmakers ahead of the 84th Legislature. Romero does not have an opponent in the general election.
“I’m not going to say that we knew that this was going to be the turnout, but we always knew that he was drawing at straws. So we felt very confident.”I would just hope he would move past this and accept that the will of the people decided; made their decision on March 4. This really is over.”
State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, filed a lawsuit in state court on Monday alleging his opponent, Ramon Romero Jr., committed voter fraud in the House District 90 Democratic primary race that Romero won by a narrow margin.
"I believe I have no choice after receiving multiple reports of an illegal computerized-signature vote-by-mail operation run to benefit my opponent," Burnam said in a statement.
In the suit, the long-serving representative alleges that Romero violated Texas election law when he canvassed neighborhoods signing people up to apply for mail-in ballots using an iPad. State law permits the use of electronic signatures only at polling sites. Burnam said the canvassers would print out the applications and mail them without their own signatures — as required by law, he said — to indicate they had assisted the voters.
"I know we did everything by the book," Michael Valdez, Romero's campaign manager, said. "We knew exactly what was going on. We knew every single person [who volunteered on the campaign], personally."
Valdez said Romero is not concerning himself with the suit. "It'll make the win even more valid than it already is," Valdez said.
Romero does not have an opponent in November.
Burnam said he is confident the more than 180 mail-in ballots in question could change the outcome of the primary by erasing Romero's 111-vote margin of victory.
The incumbent is seeking to obtain documents from the county clerk's office and from Romero directly within the next 50 days. He said those records, coupled with key testimony, will prove "that the computer-signature operation was illegal and that I won the election."
If a winner cannot be determined, the suit calls for the court to void the results of the March primary and order a new election.