Fri February 11, 2011
Initial Report Gives HD 48 to Rep. Howard by 4 Votes
A state lawmaker tasked with investigating an election challenge in a Travis County House District says Donna Howard (D-Austin) is the winner by 4 votes over her GOP challenger Dan Neil. Howard won re-election to the Texas House on Election Day by 16 votes. A recount lowered the margin to 12. Neil then challenged the election and House Speaker Joe Straus appointed Dallas Republican Will Hartnett as Master of Discovery to investigate Neil's claims. The full report will not be available until later Friday night, but you can ready Hartnett's statement below.
"After a thorough review of the numerous challenged ballots, I have concluded that Donna Howard won the House District 48 election by 4 votes.
Voters who had moved out of Travis County without changing their voter registration and returned to vote in their former precinct caused a net subtraction of 7 votes from Ms. Howard's margin of victory. Counting 4 unopened ballots subtracted a net of 2 votes from Ms. Howard's margin.
Striking 1 vote by a voter who was not effectively registered added 1 vote to her margin.
I have seen no evidence of any voter fraud or of any substantial errors by any Travis County election official. My report will be released later this evening."
The report does not end the challenge. It now goes before a full committee which votes on the report before sending it to the full House for a final vote. Neither Howard or Neil were immediately available for comment.