Former county judge candidate files election contest

Tania Ramirez

After falling to Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez in the March Democratic Primary, former candidate Tania Ramirez is now challenging the results of the election.

Ramirez, who came in second in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination for county judge, filed an election contest last week, arguing the closure of several polling locations on election day led to confusion and disenfranchised voters.

“The combination of poll closures, change in polling locations, and the unpublicized separate operation of the polling locations by the (Hidalgo County Democratic Party) and its Republican counterpart created a perfect storm of voter confusion,” the petition states. “Voters who had expected to vote at certain previously advertised locations found them closed. Others went to polling locations, adorned with ‘Vote Here’ and similar messaging, only to find that they needed to go to another location because that location was dedicated to the other party.”

For election day, the Democratic Party closed down several polling locations — including many on the west side of Hidalgo County — reducing the available sites from 56 to 41 less than 24 hours before polls were scheduled to open.

Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair Patrick Eronini attributed the election day closures to a lack of manpower necessary to run the sites.

However, Cortez harshly criticized the move, telling The Monitor that he did not believe that there weren’t enough people to staff the sites.

“You can’t tell me that it’s lack of people,” Cortez said on election day. “You chose to put them where you put them.”

Cortez did not immediately return a request for comment regarding the election contest on Monday.

In the petition, Ramirez noted the previous criticisms from Cortez who, as the declared winner of the election, is named as the contestee in the case.

In the primary, Cortez received 20,792 votes while Ramirez received 12,265, according to the canvass of the votes. Norma Ramirez, the former Democratic party chair, received 8,326 votes.

However, Ramirez argues that because of the “irregularities,” the canvass does not accurately reflect the results of the election.

“Upon trial of this contest, Contestant will show the true winner of the Election to be Tania Ramirez,” the petition states. “Alternatively, because the true outcome of the Election cannot be determined, Contestant requests that the Election be declared void, and that a new election be held.”

When reached for comment Monday, Eronini said he was not aware of the election contest and said he did not think it appropriate to comment on it.