AUSTIN -- A federal judge has denied a request to stop Central Health from finalizing votes cast in the tax ratification election on the November ballot.
Travis County voters last Tuesday approved Central Health Prop 1 -- a tax increase intended to help fund a new medical school at the University of Texas. The measure passed with 55 percent voting for and 45 percent voting against.
The Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) SPAC was formed in opposition to the proposal and filed a lawsuit October 22 arguing the ballot language illegally advocated for its passage and was written in a manner which discriminated against minority voters. Attorneys for TCTU and Central Health submitted testimony Wednesday afternoon.
In an order released late Thursday, federal Judge Lee Yeakel denied the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented Central Health from canvassing the votes and making the election's result official, however he said Central Health's motion to dismiss "remains pending and is under submission."
Yeakel wrote the plaintiffs "failed to establish that there exists a substantial likelihood they will succeed on the merits of their claims, that there is a substantial threat of irreparable injury if the injunctive relief requested is denied, that the balance of equities and hardship fall to Plaintiffs if the injunction is not granted, and that a failure to grant the injunctive relief will disserve the public interest."
"We’re obviously disappointed in the decision," plaintiffs' attorney Stephen Casey said in a statement Thursday. "As we read the law, any change in voting triggers Section 2 protections of the Voting Rights Act, and we provided several cases for the judge to follow."
"We disagree with the judge’s assessment, particularly that we could point to no authority regarding this change," stated Don Zimmerman with the Travis County Taxpayers Union. "The Voting Rights Act considers any change in voting enough to warrant protection. We will be discussing our next legal option."
The Travis County Taxpayers Union told KVUE after the order was released the group is considering its legal options, which include pursuing the case in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorneys for Central Health could not be reached for comment late Thursday.