Hidalgo elections officials allowed voters outside school district to cast ballots

doubtful votes

An elections error in South Texas may have cost the election, and it has surely dented public trust.

The elections department in Hidalgo County, nestled along the Rio Grande River and bordering Mexico, allowed 61 voters not residing in the Hidalgo school district to help elect a new board member there, the Monitor reports.

The race in the Hidalgo Independent School District was decided last week, with Norma Garza-Torres leading Mentor Cantu, 1,013 to 976. Discounting the faulty votes, Cantu would have won, 968 to 960 --- a whisper of a victory in a region not known for squeaky clean elections.

The questionable win by Norma Garza-Torres boosted a reform movement that has pledged to rid school hiring decisions of politics.

Now, lawyers are gearing up for the inevitable court fight.

Correction: This story was updated at 3:26 p.m. to reflect that the 61 votes would have changed the outcome of the election. An earlier version of the story stated otherwise. Texas Watchdog regrets the error.

Contact Lee Ann O’Neal at 713-980-9777 or leeann@texaswatchdog.org.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of money by flickr user athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.