Usually there is just one set of official election results — a list of numbers indicating how many votes candidates received in a given election, and kept safely recorded in the archives of a government elections office. But that’s not the case for the May 7 Killeen City Council election, where Bell County is maintaining one set of official results, and the city is ... well, a few digits off.
Make no mistake — the winners of the May 7 election remain unchanged; however, both Jim Stafford, Bell County’s public information officer, as well as Janell Ford, Killeen’s executive director of communications, confirmed last week that there will be two official sets of numbers for the May council election.
The reason is somewhat complicated, but basically, the county is sticking with the original canvassed vote count following the May 7 election. The city, however, is using the numbers from the recount of those ballots, which was done last weekend.
The hand recount — filed by former Councilwoman Mellisa Brown — was completed last Sunday at approximately 10:30 p.m. after 12½ hours of painstakingly recounting every ballot cast at dozens of voting locations in the May 7 election.
“Every ballot was counted at least once, some of them up to four times,” said Brown, who was running for reelection in the May 7 race and watched on during the recount. “Everyone was exhausted and wanted to go home.”
It’s unclear why the original machine-counted results did not match up with hand recount.
Bell County is maintaining its numbers from the May 16 canvassing, while the city has acknowledged some slight changes to voting numbers.
“The Bell County Election Department contacted the Secretary of State’s office regarding this matter. They were advised that they did not need to update the county’s elections website, as the results of the Killeen recount did not change the results,” Stafford said Tuesday.
Killeen’s official election numbers will be kept with the city’s election register. “It is available upon request,” according to city officials.
According to the city numbers, Brown was still fourth in the at-large election, receiving 1,748 votes in the May election, 24 votes shy of Ramon Alvarez, who placed third with 1,772 votes.
Finishing first was Jose Segarra with 2,449 votes. Ken Wilkerson finished with the second-highest total, 2,171 votes. Only the top three vote-getters were elected to a council seat.
Finishing behind Brown were Rick Williams, with 1,593 votes, and Leo Gukeisen, with 557.
Segarra, Wilkerson and Alvarez were sworn in on Monday.
Despite the fact that either voting numbers do not result in a difference in who won the election, Brown filed a lawsuit on Monday, hours before the swearing-in, alleging problems with the voting process.
In the lawsuit, Brown requests a “new election” against Alvarez, who declined to comment on the suit.
Brown filed her lawsuit against Alvarez in Bell County’s 146th Judicial District court, alleging the county failed to provide training to election workers, problems with voter registration cards, and in one case, a polling location was changed without proper notice.
In the lawsuit, Brown asked the court to issue a “temporary restraining order” prohibiting Alvarez from being sworn in to the council.
That didn’t happen last Monday night, according to Brown, because the “City Attorney said it was at the discretion of the City because they expect the TRO (temporary restraining order) and injunction but didn’t have it in hand.”
In the lawsuit, Brown is asking the election results be “declared void and a new election ordered by the court.”
Brown is suing Alvarez, and not the county nor the city.
She said she did it this way because the “election code says you have to name another candidate.” And because she wants the city to “remain neutral in this in all regards.”
As she digs in try to get her council seat back, Brown said she is discovering discrepancies with the registered voter rolls.
Brown alleged in her lawsuit one registered voter was nearly turned away because of a problem with Bell County’s voter registration database, among other problems with election workers.
“A reasonable person could believe that this lack of training could have caused a different outcome in an election decided by only 26 votes,” according to the lawsuit.
Or, if one goes by the city’s official number, the election was decided by 24 votes.
May 7 Killeen City Council election
Bell County official results
Jose Segarra: 2,450
Ken Wilkerson: 2,173
Ramon Alvarez: 1,774
Mellisa Brown: 1,748
Rick Williams: 1,597
Leo J. Gukeisen: 557
City of Killeen official results
Jose Segarra: 2,449
Ken Wilkerson: 2,171
Ramon Alvarez: 1,772
Mellisa Brown: 1,748
Rick Williams: 1,593
Leo J. Gukeisen: 557