2nd place candidate requests audit in race to replace Garnet Coleman, citing rumors and delays

Danielle Keys Bess referenced unproven “rumors of mail-in ballot harvesting” in her demand, prompting her opponent Jolanda Jones to criticize her as going “full Trump.”

Danielle Keys Bess, left, and Jolanda Jones.
Campaign Photos
Danielle Keys Bess, left, and Jolanda Jones.

Danielle Keys Bess — the second-place finisher of the May 7 special election to replace outgoing state Sen. Garnet Coleman for the rest of 2022 — requested an audit of results Thursday, citing unsubstantiated rumors and documented count delays.

Keys Bess, who lost by 202 votes to former Houston City Councilmember Jolanda Jones, noted “rumors of mail-in ballot harvesting” among the reasons for requesting a recount. Jones provided no evidence for the claim.

“I recognize that rumor is not fact, but still want to validate the integrity of the election results,” Keys Bess wrote in her letter to Election Administrator Isabel Longoria.

The candidate also referenced documented delays in vote tallies, in which Harris County took longer to tabulate its unofficial results than any other large county in Texas. That followed a March 2 election in which Longoria came under fire for taking more than 24 hours to tally votes. She has since announced her resignation, set to take effect in July.

Longoria’s office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

Keys Bess also cited what she said were inconsistencies between the primary election and the special election. Both Jones and Keys Bess are also running in the primary to replace Coleman starting in 2023.

Early and Election Day ballots were lower in the special election — just 27% and 32% of the primary numbers — while mail-in ballots in the special election increased. According to data released by Longoria’s office, they received 1,326 mail-in ballots in the special election versus 1,158 — 114% of the primary.

The May 7 election included no high-profile races and had lower in-person turnout overall than the March primary, which saw multiple statewide and legislative races including the governor and attorney general contests on the ballot.

In a statement, Jones accused Keys Bess of going “full Trump,” comparing the audit request to former President Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden’s legitimate 2021 presidential election victory.

"Just like Donald Trump, and with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, my opponent is trying to overturn the results of a valid election with a bogus audit of mail ballots,” Jones said.