NEW BOSTON, Texas — A bench trial scheduled for Monday in a lawsuit stemming from a contested race for Bowie County Commissioner's Court did not go forward as planned.
The unavailability of a lawyer and COVID-19 concerns led to the delay in the case filed by Kyle Barrett against his opponent, James Strain.
Strain, the incumbent, was declared the winner of the Precinct 3 race following the election and after a recount in mid-March.
Strain won the election by 27 votes, according to complete but unofficial results.
The case was scheduled for a bench trial Monday before visiting District Judge Tim Womack at the Bowie County Courthouse in New Boston. In a bench trial, the judge, rather than a jury, decides the outcome of a case after hearing arguments and considering evidence presented by both sides. Womack presides over the 307th District Court in Gregg County.
Barrett said some voters who supported him were turned away from polling places for no reason, that ballots were missing or added and that election staff were illegally electioneering at their polling places on behalf of Strain and to the detriment of Barrett.
"The court should hold that there were irregularities of a sufficient nature to prevent the will of the electorate from being discernible from the contested race, find that it is necessary to declare the contested race void, and order the Bowie County Republican Party to hold a new primary for its nomination to represent the Precinct on the Commissioners' Court," Barrett's complaint alleges.
Barrett and Strain, both Republicans, were the only two candidates running for the office.
Strain filed a response to Barrett's complaint, refuting Barrett's allegations and denying the need for a do-over election exists.
"Contestant's contest has no merit, is based on speculation, and erroneous math, and does not show that the outcome of the contested election, as shown by the final canvass, is either not the true outcome or that errors of election officials materially affected the outcome of the election," Strain's response states.
Barrett is represented by Elizabeth Alvarez of Forney, Texas. Strain is represented by Eric Opiela of Austin. A new date for the bench trial has not been set.