Attorneys Ladd and Thigpen, P.C. said in a statement that it intends on filing litigation against Tyler and Smith County on Monday to prevent the tabulation and certification of votes for Propositions 1 and 2 on behalf of “a citizen.”
The basis of the injunction would be to show city and county officials followed election law improperly.
“The citizen hopes the injunction promotes an open and transparent discussion of the petition procedure followed by officials,” the statement said.
Landmark Baptist Church Pastor Mike Daniels, of Stand Strong for Tyler, a political action group opposed to beer and wine sales, said two lawsuits regarding the alcohol election are planned.
Daniels said temporary restraining orders to stop the local option elections for the expansion of mixed beverages and the legal sale of beer and wine inside the city of Tyler and Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 are planned. He said the city and Smith County failed to declare petitions invalid according to state law.
City spokeswoman Susan Guthrie said 7,895 signatures were required to order the election in the city. More than 9,000 petition signatures were received and more than 8,300 were verified as registered voters within the city limits.
Buy Local First submitted 12,825 signatures to the county for verification in Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 for the sale of beer and wine. More than 6,700 signatures are required for the petition to make the ballot.
Smith County Election Administrator Karen Nelson said her department verified 1,000 more signatures than necessary.
Daniels said the petitions did not meet three criteria required by law – each must have an official seal, signatures by the registered voters in that jurisdiction and a page number.
Under those standards, Daniels said all 8,300 signatures verified by the city would be invalidated and all but 400 signatures verified by the county would be invalidated.
“We've been saying this from the beginning, but the city and county are pushing this thing,” Daniels said. “They are supposed to follow the law, and if they did it would disqualify the petitions and therefore the election.”
The opposition group's attorneys Ladd and Thigpen, P.C. said in a statement that it intends on filing litigation against Tyler and Smith County Monday to prevent the tabulation and certification of votes for Propositions 1 and 2.
City attorney Gary Landers said in a statement the city has received a letter from Tyler attorney Matthew Thigpen regarding possible litigation.
“The city continues to be very confident that we demonstrated due diligence and accuracy in the processing of the petitions and upheld our legal obligation to call the election and allow the citizens to exercise their right to vote based upon our findings,” he said in the statement.
County District Attorney Matt Bingham said the county had not been notified and that no litigation had been filed as of 5 p.m. Thursday. He would not comment regarding the possibility of litigation against the county but said that his office will represent Smith County as mandated.
County Judge Joel Baker issued a statement saying the Elections Office struck invalid signatures and that the county court placed the propositions on ballots according to state law after the necessary number of signatures were validated.
Bob Westbrook, chairman of the Buy Local First alcohol proponent group, said the litigation is “the last desperate act to create doubt” about the process. He said there is little chance a judge would stop the election because similar actions have failed in other jurisdictions in the past.
Westbrook said he has no doubt the petitions would stand under the scrutiny of the Texas secretary of state, the state attorney general or a district judge regarding the validity of the petitions.
“I am confident the city and county did their job and I stand by their hard work,” he said. “It's just an attempt to sew a seed of doubt when they're getting their fanny kicked.”