Temporary injunction ‘invalidates’ votes for opponent in Smith County constable race

Temporary injunction ‘invalidates’ votes for opponent in Smith County constable race
A hearing Tuesday regarding a lawsuit filed in the Smith County Pct. 1 constable race resulted in a temporary injunction Willie Mims on the ballot, but invalidates any votes cast for him. (Blake Holland/KLTV Multimedia Journalist) (Source: Blake Holland/KLTV)

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - A hearing Tuesday regarding a lawsuit filed in the Smith County Pct. 1 constable race resulted in a temporary injunction that keeps Willie Mims on the ballot but invalidates any votes cast for him, according to Bobby Garmon’s attorney Dallas Tharpe.

Pct. 1 Constable Bobby Garmon filed a lawsuit on Jan. 9 hoping to keep Mims’ name off the Democratic Party primary ballot in March. Garmon claimed Mim’s name shouldn’t appear because Mims did not meet requirements of the Texas Election Code.

In the event Mims wins, the case would go back to court, where a decision would be made concerning a permanent injunction. Garmon said after the hearing he is confident he will win.

“My understanding is if Willie Mims wins the election, his vote is not counted," Constable Garmon said. “We would have to come back to the judge and he would sign a permanent order. It’s temporary right now, because if he loses, everything is moot.”

Garmon said he’s the one who discovered the invalid signatures after obtaining a copy of the petition through an open records request.

“You can look at it and see that Troup, Whitehouse, and Lindale are not in precinct 1," Garmon said.

The state’s election code required Mims petition to have 200 valid signatures in lieu of the filing fee. That number is equal to the 2% of the total number of Pct. 1 voters in the most recent gubernatorial election.

Smith County Election’s Administrator Karen Nelson testified on Tuesday that a number of the signatures on the petition were found to be invalid.

“We found 32 of the 66 to not be registered to vote in Smith County," Nelson said. "And then 28 were found to be out of district, meaning not in Constable Pct. 1. Six of them were actually valid signatures.”

Garmon told KLTV he and his campaign are paying for the lawsuit.

Willie Mims Jr. is currently a Deputy Constable for Pct. 1. Mims, Garmon, and corrections officer Curtis Traylor Harris are seeking the position.

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