Victoria City Council recount moves ahead despite objection

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

May 22, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.
Updated May 23, 2012 at 12:23 a.m.

Victoria voters can expect an answer Thursday for the 3-vote margin in the May 12 city council election.

The recount process set off a heated debate and accusations of bias from Councilman Emett Alvarez toward the city, which has delayed the final tally four days.

Mayor Will Armstrong rescheduled the recount of the 383-380 vote between Alvarez and Denise Rangel for 4 p.m., Thursday at the county elections office. He said he hopes for a decisive result before the long holiday weekend.

"It's very seldom that recounts change the result of the election," Armstrong said. "I expect the results to stay the same."

The recount was set for 3 p.m. Monday, but was postponed after Alvarez raised several objections Sunday regarding Rangel's request. Alvarez's objections included Rangel's deposit check written to the city instead of the mayor, who is the recount administrator; others were largely clerical and the city's responsibility - time stamps and documented approval status.

He later accused the mayor of being biased in favor of Rangel. However, Armstrong said he is supporting the recount, not either candidate.

Alvarez said he is looking forward to the recount, but first wants an opinion from the secretary of state regarding the city's process.

According to Sec. 212.030 of the state election code, Rangel could amend her recount petition to correct a defect, but it must be submitted after 48 hours or by 5 p.m. the second day after the notice of the defect.

Because her petition was approved Thursday with typos and clerical errors, Alvarez said, the window of opportunity for a recount is closed.

However, the election code gives room for revisions, even after approval.

Rich Parsons, director of communications with the secretary of state, said in an email, "If the 48-hour deadline lands on a weekend, it would extend to the next business day."

Sect. 212.031 of the code states that the recount supervisor can order the request to be amended or rejected after the recount coordinator has approved it.

Armstrong is serving in both capacities.

By final action, if the request does not meet requirements, the recount coordinator can determine if it is correctable by an amendment and delay action until it is amended, according to that section.

Armstrong met with the city attorney, assistant city manager and mayor pro tem at 10 a.m. Monday to discuss handling the recount and corrections Alvarez identified.

Mayor Pro Tem David Hagan agreed during that meeting with the city's direction, Armstrong said.

"I feel like it was wise and prudent to make sure that we dotted all our I's and crossed all our T's," Hagan said.

Armstrong said he thought it was in the public's best interest to give Rangel time to revise her request. She resubmitted it at 2:08 p.m. Tuesday, and it was approved soon after.

Rangel has said that the recount is the right thing to do for her former district.

All eight voting precincts in that district, early voting, mail-in ballots and electronic ballots are now included in the count, according to her amended request.

Victoria County Elections Administrator George Matthews accepted appointment by Armstrong to lead the recount committee. Armstrong is still the recount supervisor and coordinator.

The recount is not open to the public. However, the candidates are allowed two representatives to oversee the recount.

Armstrong has not yet appointed the three-person counting committee.



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