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Block the re-vote: Democracy a la carte is expensive

Two of the losing candidates in the June 13 runoff Ė District 2ís Byron Miller and District 5ís Lourdes Galvan -- have decided to call it quits despite their opponentsí narrow margins of victory (54 in Millerís case, 45 for Galvan), clearing the way for a cloud-free swearing in this evening at City Hall. (In District 8, Reed trounced Berlanga.) While both cited the usual well-meaning platitudes about moving forward, etc., money no doubt played a role as well. A District 5 recount petition would have run more than 4 grand, and District 2ís was a pricey $7,215. And thatís just to essentially rerun the machineís tally.

If you really wanted to question the vote -- registration, validity, etc. -- as the Miller campaign suggested it might earlier this week, youíre talking about an Election Contest, which requires a lawyer and more cash. One local elections attorney cites $7,500 as his fee to get the ball rolling, and a local political organizer suggested that the investigative footwork involved was easily a mid-five-figure investment.

Ten days before the runoff, Miller called Taylorís residency into question, alleging in a press release that she wasnít really living in the house she and her husband bought on Olive Street for six months before she filed, as required by City law. Now that Taylorís the victor, recent Texas court rulings suggest that Miller doesnít have standing to challenge her right to hold office, and would have to convince Texas AG Greg Abbott or Bexar County DA Susan Reed to take it up. A source close to the campaign implied that this political unlikelihood was a deciding factor in Millerís late-Thursday concession phone call to Taylor, but the QueBlog wonders if Millerís own well-documented residency questions didnít preclude a real challenge on this point.

But we also wonder whether the bars to requesting a recount or investigating possible voting irregularities are unnecessarily high?

Taylor, who hadnít spoken with the Miller campaign between the runoff and Millerís concession, says she wasnít surprised by her opponentís decision despite his campaign's early posturing.

ďWell, itís pretty costly,Ē she said.

Maybe not as costly as the 2004 Cuellar/Rodriguez Democratic-primary vote showdown, because weíre talking about far fewer than Webb Countyís 15,000 ballots. But weíre also talking about smaller potatoes in the end: recorded City kickbacks average far less than the cost of the recount alone.

(Just kidding, of course. SA council members learned their lesson with Kike Martin and John Sanders a few years back & QueBlog is in no way impugning the character of the D2 candidates.)

Ed. note: This blog post has been corrected. It originally stated that "...recent Texas court rulings suggest that Wright doesnít have standing to challenge her right to hold office ...," instead of "...recent Texas court rulings suggest that Miller doesnít have standing to challenge her right to hold office." Wright was a candidate in the general election; he first raised the issue of Miller's residency. He threw his support to Taylor in the runoff.

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 6/19/2009 6:11:11 PM
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