Woody asks recount; Edwards does it again
By 11/16/2000 00:00:00
Ellis County Press Managing Editor
ELLIS COUNTY - Much like the U.S. Presidency, still up in the air at press time a full week after the vote, the Nov. 7 election produced two local controversies.
Democrat Bill Woody has filed for a recount after losing to Republican Richard Schmidt by 76 votes for Precinct 1 constable.
And one precinct's misreported total changed overnight the outcome of a seat on the Wilmer-Hutchins school board, prompting a recount and perhaps a continuing court battle.
When all the votes were tabulated early Wednesday morning, elections administrator Bruce Sherbet congratulated Brenda Duff as the victor of the hotly contented seat on the Wilmer-Hutchins Board of Trustees. Phoned-in totals gave Duff 1,377 votes to 1,297 for Luther Edwards III.
Later Wednesday, however, the outcome was reversed when officials determined precinct 3700 was incorrectly reported. Instead of 13 votes, Edwards received 134, changing him from an 80-vote loser to a 41-vote winner overnight.
Edwards claimed it was 'Divine intervention.' Some of Duff's supporters reportedly said the opposite. And Barry Finkel, Duff's attorney, admitted not being sure what had happened while he asked district court to set the election aside a second time.
Schmidt had 5,307 votes to edge Woody at 5,231 for Pct. 1 constable. The result of the recount, scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Tuesday, was not known at press time. More than 10,000 ballots were being recounted. Woody said he expects uncounted mail-in ballots to be in his favor.
Ellis County's other races produced no need for recounts, especially Proposition 1 that grants 30-percent raises to sheriff's department personnel. After the Ellis County Commissioners Court refused to negotiate with the deputies, citizens overwhelmingly favored the raises, 22,366 to 7,832.
Commissioner seats were won by incumbent Hallie Joe Robinson, who defeated G.T. Morton in Pct. 1, 3,765 to 3,165, and by Jackie Miller Sr., who topped Sidney Osteen in Pct. 3, 6,833 to 3,030.
The controversy over the Wilmer-Hutchins board seat began last May when Duff initially won by three votes, but Edwards challenged and a judge ordered a second election after finding six illegal ballots by nonresidents.
Finkel promised an investigation to determine if people really voted for Edwards, 'because for all I know, they stuffed the ballot box.'
The controversy caused election officials to count the Wilmer-Hutchins ballots by hand at two locations, which called the results to the Dallas County Elections Department. When the ballots were taken downtown and recounted, the discrepancy was discovered, putting Edwards ahead of Duff.