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Cuellar, Ortiz to appeal election contest ruling

Hidalgo-County-SealAttorneys for Marla Cuellar and Rey Ortiz, candidates in the March primaries who filed election contests, have filed notices of appeal after a district court threw out their cases.

Cuellar made an unsuccessful bid for the County Court-at-Law No. 8 bench, and Rey Ortiz lost the race to become the 92nd District Court Democratic candidate in the November race.

In an April 11 hearing, Judge Manuel Bañales granted pleas to jurisdiction filed by attorneys for Omar Maldonado, who won the race for County Court-at-Law No. 8, and Luis Singleterry, who came out on top in the 92nd District Court race, dismissing the cases.

“Not a single voter has been identified as casting an improper vote (or that such improper vote was in favor of Contestee),” Maldonado’s motion stated. “Nothing in the pleadings affirmatively indicate that anything improper occurred in this race.”

However, a response submitted by attorneys for both Ortiz and Cuellar stated their theory is that there was widespread electoral fraud or machine malfunctions. The document alleges that thousands of votes could have been affected or manipulated.

“Admittedly, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which this story would not sound more akin to political fiction than to reality,” the response states. “However, the novelty and uniqueness of these claims in this contest does not render them non justiciable.”

Mari Regalado, who lost to Sergio Muñoz in a challenge for State Representative District 36, also filed a contest, stating, "Contestant will prove by clear and convincing evidence that a sufficient number of illegal votes were counted to affect the outcome of the election; that either through malfunction or illegal manipulation, who voted for one candidate had their votes re-cast for other candidates."

Muñoz filed a general denial of the allegations as well as a counterclaim stating that the incident Regalado refers to was a different race on the ballot, and there is no other evidence to indicate the machines malfunctioned or had been manipulated.

"Contestant has brought a fictitious suit and allegation, only for the purposes of harassment, delay and for an improper purpose," Muñoz states in his countersuit requesting attorney's fees.

Regalado’s contest is scheduled for trial April 25.

Three candidates in the race for Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Place 2 also filed election contests: Hortencia “Tency” Martinez, Elvia Rios and Paul Vazaldua.

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