Brewster County Commissioner Candidate Wants Recount

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

BREWSTER COUNTY - The Texas primaries have come and gone but a Brewster County  Commissioner candidate wants a recount in his race.

He said the votes are too close to call, but that's not the only issue that's come up after the polls closed.

A forgetful moment during early voting in Brewster County is now raising some questions.

On May 23rd, election officials left to Marathon but forgot to take the ballot box and ballots with them.

"They knew when they left that one of the candidates, Ruben Ortega, was in Alpine and would be available to bring those items to Marathon," Public Information Officer, Betse Esparza, said.

Ruben Ortega delivered the ballots and the box to the Marathon polling place. He's the current Brewster County Commissioner for Precinct three.

"It was loaded by somebody else in his vehicle and somebody else took it out of his vehicle," Esparza said. "It was all sealed, and there were witnesses to the unsealing of the ballots in Marathon."

But sealed or not, that doesn't sit well with Marcos Paredes, who was running against Ortega.

"I would not accept that opportunity," Paredes said. "Every person I've mentioned this to, right off, raised their eyebrows."

NewsWest 9 spoke with the Texas Secretary of State's office. They tell NewsWest 9, Ortega didn't do anything wrong.

"Texas election code does not prohibit candidates from delivering ballots to a polling place," Rich Parsons, with the Secretary of State's Office, said.

However, the office advises against doing that in order to protect the integrity of the voting systems.

Esparza said the votes were never compromised. In fact, the county judge is the only one with a key to the ballot box.

Paredes doesn't agree with what happened but he also said that's not why he wants a recount.

"The total number of votes that I lost by were very few," Paredes said.

Paredes said he believes he found some discrepancies in numbers.

He was just seven votes shy of tying with candidate Eduardo Vega, who is now in the run-off.

"Anytime there is a difference of less than 10 percent, that is grounds for a recount," Paredes said.

Paredes said he submitted a petition for a recount and a deposit to pay for it.

He said to his understanding there could be a recount done next week.