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State rejects election appeal by candidate removed from ballot in The Woodlands

November 27, 2018

A candidate who was removed from the ballot for the Nov. 6, 2018 election of the Board of Directors for The Woodlands Township has had his appeal of the removal rejected by state officials.

Luis Granados, who was initially set to challenge incumber Board of Directors Member John Anthony Brown, had filed an appeal in late October over his removal from the Nov. 6 ballot with the Texas Secretary of State office. The Secretary of State probes any election-related appeals before recommending whether or not the issue needs to be investigated by the state Attorney General.

According to a letter The Villager obtained from the state through a open records request, Granados was informed on Nov. 15 that after investigating his claims, the Secretary of State office was not recommending any action on the allegation. The letter was signed by Keith Ingram, the director of elections for the Texas Secretary of State.

“Our office has reviewed each of your concerns, but none of the facts that you have presented to us in your complaint appear to involve criminal matters under the election code,” the letter states. “Therefore, our office is not referring this matter to the Texas Attorney General for investigation.”

Granados, who has been out of the country due to a family emergency, said he was not surprised by the rejection of his appeal and said when he returns to the country, he plans to appeal the latest decision at the Secretary of State office.

“What a surprise. The oligarchy protects its members,” Granados said in an email. “The (Secretary of State ) has a pre-printed letter that they use over and over to dismiss complaints. Very soon the elections in Texas will equate the ones in a banana republic.”

The issue dates to August, when the candidate filing period opened for the four positions on the township board that were up for election in 2018. Granados, who had previously run unsuccessfully for a position on the Lone State College Board of Trustees, filed his paperwork to contest Brown, who was seeking re-election to the board for his second term.

However, two blank spaces on the candidate filing form Granados submitted that ask a candidate to detail their length of residence of The Woodlands and the state of Texas were left blank. The two boxes are mandatory and cannot be left blank. In a letter to Granados dated Aug. 29, township employee Karen Dempsey — an assistant to township President Don Norrell — informed Granados that he had been removed from the Nov. 6 ballot because he had left the residency boxes blank.

Brown, who eventually was placed on the ballot as the sole candidate, won re-election with 100 percent of all votes cast. The results of the election were canvassed and approved on Nov. 9.

In his appeal, which cited Norrell as the responding party, Granados claimed that when he turned in the candidate forms at the township offices, he did indeed leave the residency boxes blank. However Granados alleges that he asked for help from an employee identified as a notary public about whether or not he did need to list his time as a resident and claims the person told him it was “not relevant.” He said he then turned in the form without answering his residency questions.

Granados claimed that after the confusion, Dempsey contacted him and said after consultation with attorneys from both the township and the Texas Secretary of State, she had been informed that Granados would have to be removed from the ballot.

At the time of the incident, township spokesperson Nick Wolda denied the township or any employee had given the alleged advice Granados claimed he received. Wolda also said township officials were merely following state election laws and guidance from

“This is outrageous and a clear manipulation to favor the candidate they can work with, representing to a large local and influent (sic) resident — Huntsman Corporation,” Granados wrote in his appeal to the state. “Once again, the good old boys are on the Board of Directors of The Woodlands Township making decision (sic) affecting our living conditions.”

Brown is set to begin his second two-year term on the Board of Directors in January, and he said he had no role in the issue involving Granados candidate form being rejected.

“I was informed by (township) staff that an application filed with The Woodlands Township for a place on the ballot was rejected based upon guidance from the Texas Secretary of State’s office and accordingly (Granados’) name would not appear on the ballot for the election,” Brown wrote in an email to The Villager. “Per the Secretary of State’s Office, (Granados) did not provide all filing information on the submitted application for as required by the State election code.”

Brown also said that his, or anyone’s, employer has no relevance on how the Texas Secretary of State’s Office makes, “Its judgment regarding a completed or incomplete application.”

jeff.forward@chron.com

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