State, County Watching For Fraud, Electioneering In Run-Off Races

DALLAS (CBS11) – Dallas County’s Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole says hundreds of mail ballots for the run-off elections Saturday won’t be counted until after election night.

In an email, she said 594 ballots won’t be counted right away, but she didn’t specify where those ballots are from.

She did say that elections judges received additional training about how to cancel mail ballots if a voter says they didn’t request one.

The news comes amid a criminal investigation into voter fraud allegations involving mail ballots being conducted by the Dallas County District Attorney’s office.

The troubles involved mail ballots in Districts 2 and 6 during the municipal election May 6.

CBS11 has also learned the Texas Secretary of State’s office is sending an inspector to various polling places in Dallas Council District 8 on Saturday.

The agency says a resident requested the inspector out of concern some people may try to inappropriately influence voters, a practice called electioneering, as they go into the polling sites.

Candidates in both Districts 6 and 8 spoke to CBS11 about their efforts to win the council seats.

Mayor Pro-Tem Monica Alonzo is hoping her record will help her win a fourth term as District 6’s council member. “We’ve been doing everything from economic development, that way we bring jobs. We’ve been working to make sure we have safe and secure neighborhoods.”

But her challenger Omar Narvaez says he believes the district has been under-represented. “The residents of district 6 are ready, they want a champion at city hall and they’re getting behind me.”

One major issue in the district is the more than 100 rental homes in disrepair in West Dallas owned by HMK.

Narvaez says he talked the company’s owner Khraish Khraish into selling some of his homes to the tenants. “I continued to talk to them and that’s what a city council member is supposed to do is get on the phone when there are issues in the community.”

Alonzo though says Narvaez doesn’t deserve the credit — and she has warned HMK’s tenants buying the homes. “We’ve always asked the individuals get an independent lawyer to review your paperwork before you sign because they’ll be responsible for repairs.”

Alonzo has raised far more money than Narvaez.

Campaign finance records show as of May 31, Alonzo had $126,226 in political contributions, while Narvaez had $33,475.

Alonzo also enjoys support from Mayor Mike Rawlings and a super-PAC, For Our Community, aligned with the one of the Mayor’s former consultants.

Campaign finance records filed Thursday with the Texas Ethics Commission show For Our Community spent $11,979 for Alonzo in advertising expenses.

Alonzo says, “I’m appreciative of the overwhelming support we’ve gotten from many people, not just one group, not just one person.”

Narvaez says, “The difference we have is we have actual residents, actual volunteers from the community, community leaders.”

In the District 8 run-off, former Councilman Tennell Atkins is trying to win his seat back against the man he once supported: Erik Wilson, the Deputy Mayor Pro-Tem.

Wilson says his supporters often bring this up to him. “My predecessor had his time. They don’t understand why he would want to come back. I’m a young up and coming leader, give me a chance to prove myself.”

CBS11 repeatedly invited Atkins for an on-camera interview about the run-off.

He cancelled the interview he’d agreed to do, and despite CBS11’s attempts to reschedule, he never responded.

As for Wilson, he says if re-elected, he wants to continue focusing on public safety, making sure the city is picking up loose dogs roaming the streets, and economic development.

He says his accomplishments include helping with improving the Red Bird Mall and another key area.

“Providing the infrastructure on Wheatland Road, thereby opening up opportunities for retail and a new housing development, University Hills coming in.”

If Atkins were to win, he’d become the third member on the next city council to return to their old seats after facing term limits.

While Mayor Rawlings remained neutral in this race, the For Our Community super-PAC backed Wilson.

Records filed by the organization with the Ethics Commission Thursday show it spent $12,480 on advertising on Wilson’s behalf.

Wilson says, “This is no different than support you would receive from the firefighters or support you would receive from the real estate council or any other PAC that’s designed to support a candidate that they believe in.”

Campaign finance records show as of May 31st, Wilson had $5,303 in political contributions remaining in his account, while Atkins had $10,795.

In District 7, Council member Tiffinni Young faces a run-off with Kevin Felder.

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