Invalid petition signatures may spell trouble in Smith County constable race

Candidate claims opponent’s name should not be on ballot

Invalid petition signatures may spell trouble in Smith County constable race

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) -Invalid signatures may prevent a Smith County Precinct 1 candidate’s name from appearing on the Democratic Party primary ballot in March.

Precinct 1 Constable Bobby Garmon says in a lawsuit that the name of opponent Willie Mims should not appear on the ballot because Mims did not meet requirements of the Texas Election Code.

Mims, a deputy constable in the Precinct 1 office, said Monday evening that the accusation is untrue.

“I think they slandered my name a little bit, but I think we’re going to bounce back from it,” Mims said.

Garmon, Mims, and corrections officer Curtis Traylor Harris are seeking the position.

To appear on the ballot, hopefuls must file an application and a filing fee with the appropriate party chairman. However a petition can be filed in lieu of paying the fee.

Texas Election Code requires that petition to contain signatures equal to 2 percent of the total number of votes cast by that precinct in the most recent gubernatorial election. In this case, 200 valid signatures are required.

Upon request, Smith County elections administrators checked 66 of 212 signatures on Mims’ petition. Of those, 60 were ruled invalid because the person is not registered to vote in Smith County or lived outside of Precinct 1.

Because Democratic Party Chairman Michael Tolbert is the recipient of the petition, Garmon notes in the lawsuit that he contacted Tolbert on Dec. 20 to challenge Mims application.

Copies of emails attached to the lawsuit show Tolbert attempted to notify Mims via email on December 23. No response was received, Garmon said in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Tolbert believes he does not have the authority to prevent Mims’ name from being placed on the ballot without a court order.

On Jan. 9, Garmon filed a lawsuit against Tolbert seeking an injunction to prevent Mims’ name from appearing on the ballot, and to keep the ballots from being printed.

A hearing date has not been set.

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