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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On May 7, 2005, an election pitting appellant against the appellee was held for a seat on the Pasadena city council; it resulted in a tie, which necessitated a run-off election. The run-off election was almost as close: 591 votes were tallied for appellant, 590 for appellee. During the course of the ballot counting, the Early Voting Ballot Board excluded three ballots from consideration because the signatures on the carrier envelopes and mail-in ballot applications did not match, as required by the Election Code. Appellee filed an election contest, and, after discovery, the parties stipulated that two of appellant’s votes were impermissibly counted because one voter lived outside the geographic boundary of the district in question and the others voter’s registration status had not become effective until after the run-off election. This placed appellee ahead by one vote, 590 to 589. After appellee rested his case, the appellant introduced the applications for ballot by mail and carrier envelopes of three voters � Donald Howard, Angel Marino and Gary Gray � who had voted for him. The trial court heard testimony from each of the three voters and, via their depositions, from the four board members. The Board members who had testified that they found, as to appellant’s three proffered voters, that the signatures on the applications for ballots by mail were not made by the same person who signed the carrier envelopes, thereby violating election law statutes. The trial court agreed, finding that the relevant signatures did not match. The trial court further found that “assistance,” as defined in the Texas Election Code, had been given to each of the proffered voters, in contravention of same. The court also found that none of the three proffered voters had a physical disability such that they could not write or see. After the trial court declined to add the mail-in ballots to the vote total, the appellants filed an expedited appeal contending that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to count the three mail-in ballots. The appellant, Donald Harrison, argues that the trial court abused its discretion in deciding this election contest case in favor of appellee, Leroy Stanley, because the trial court erroneously rejected three crucial votes in favor of Harrison on the grounds that 1. The signatures on the envelopes containing the mail-in ballots in question did not match the signatures on the three voters’ mail-in ballot applications and 2. The three voters received “undisclosed assistance” in completing their mail-in ballots. The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s decision on March 9. DISSENT:Jennings, J. “The panel, in its opinion, errs in holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting the ballots of two of the voters in question in this election contest case on the grounds that the signatures on the envelopes containing their mail-in ballots did not match the signatures on their mail-in ballot applications. Moreover, the panel’s misapplication of law effectively nullifies the legal votes of the two voters, disenfranchises them from the voting process, and denies them the safeguard of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, I respectfully dissent from the denial of en banc consideration of this case.”

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