MISD School Bond: Judge orders counting of 836 discrepancy ballots at hearing

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"If the election fails, then Midland ISD will accept the results."

MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Controversy still surrounds the validity of the Midland Independent School District’s $569 million school bond. The first hearing for the contested bond election took place Friday morning at the Midland County Courthouse.

“Everybody seemed to agree that if counting these ballots take us back to the election night total, there would be no reason to go forward,” stated Midland County Attorney, Russell Malm.

“Better Bond for Midland” was represented by Joe Nixon Friday morning. He says the court is not allowed to guess, or speculate, the outcomes of the election but rather make certain of the results.

“The election code doesn’t require that,” explained Nixon.

All parties discussed whether to recount those 836 discrepancy ballots or to call for a completely new election. Judge George D. Gilles ultimately ordered to count the misplaced box of ballots and determine how many voted for and against.

“The court did not rule that those ballots are valid or anything like that,” said Malm. “But I believe the court’s feeling was that before he can make any other orders, before the parties can know what to do, that those ballots need to be counted.”

Both sides will each have a county employee tallying the votes, as well as poll watchers. Malm says the county and MISD both believe that the results will reflect those from election night. This would mean the bond fails.

“We’ve reached another agreement that’s very significant. If the election fails, then Midland ISD will accept the results,” said Nixon.

Should the contest still continue following the result, it could mean depositions from other county employees and election judges.

The count will be held next Friday, January 17th, at the Midland County Elections Office. The official time has not been determined as of yet.

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