A judge ordered Weslaco to call a new District 5 City Commission election “as soon as possible” Thursday after weeks of considering arguments in an election challenge there. “This is a victory,” candidate Letty Lopez said after the decision. “The judge called it the best that he could, getting the facts on each voter.” Lopez sued Commissioner Lupe Rivera after she lost the seat by only 16 votes in November. She alleged widespread voter fraud in the contest and challenged some 44 votes.
Judge Menton Murray Jr. sided with Lopez on most of those Thursday in a detailed decision that included proclaiming some Rivera family member had deliberately committed fraud with regards to at least two of the votes.
Based on testimony from voters, Murray subtracted illegal votes from the totals of both sides — but mostly Rivera — that reduced the margin between the candidates to two. The judge also rejected 11 ballots which were undetermined in which candidate they supported. Because that number exceeded what he found to be the margin of victory, he ordered a new election.