San Jacinto County sheriff files lawsuit contesting loss in primary election

Mycah Hatfield Image
Friday, May 24, 2024
San Jacinto County sheriff files suit contesting primary election loss
About 100 votes pushed San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers out but he is digging his heels to keep his job.

SAN JACINTO COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers filed a lawsuit this week contesting his loss in the March 5 Republican Primary Election.

Capers fell to the San Jacinto County Precinct 3 Constable Sam Houston by 107 votes and will have to leave office at the end of the year.

In the civil suit, Capers, who is represented by attorney Andy Taylor, claims that 503 illegal votes were cast in the election. He notes that 255 people who registered to vote after the cutoff, 218 people who do not live in the county, and 30 felons were allowed to vote. The lawsuit does not specify how that information was acquired.

Capers asked the judge to either declare him the winner or require a new election.

"As elections get closer and more contentious, people care more about the outcome (than) they didn't before, then I think those errors come to the surface," Rice University political science professor Bob Stein said. "How widespread they are? I do not believe they are widespread."

Stein explained that he does not believe election errors are made with malice but rather because of ambiguity or a lack of resources.

San Jacinto County has just under 20,000 registered voters. Roughly a quarter of the voters cast ballots in the March 5 election.

It is unclear if the alleged illegal votes would impact any of the other races because most of the local elections went to runoffs.

Stein said there is a chance that other candidates could follow in Capers' footsteps and contest their results.

"I think the case in San Jacinto is how can I say it invites others and particularly in primaries," Stein explained.

Recently in Harris County, a judge ruled that there has to be a new election for the 180th district court judge. Incumbent Judge DeSean Jones beat his opponent in November 2022 by only 449 votes.

Similarly, the candidate who lost filed a suit claiming there were illegal votes cast that could have changed the result of the election.

"The law is pretty clear here, and I think the district judge in the Harris County case (used) the word precedent; I'm not a lawyer, so I want to be clear on (that) a standard that was both reasonable, replicable, and testable," Stein said.

Houston said he has hired an attorney, and they are working on the case.

Houston's attorney, John Raley, sent ABC13 the following statement:

"Mr. Capers is required by Texas law to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that violations of the Election Code occurred and materially affected the outcome. If he cannot do so, his case will be dismissed."

The San Jacinto County Elections Administrator said they did not have a comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

An initial hearing date has not been set in the case.

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