Ken Wise 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Lyndon B. Johnson v. Coke R. Stevenson, et al. Much has been written about the 1948 U.S. Senate election and runoff between former Texas Gov. Coke R. Stevenson and U.S. Rep. Lyndon B. Johnson. The election night results found Johnson behind by varying margins, all under 1,000 votes. On Friday, Sept. 3, six days after the polls had closed, the results from Precinct 13 in Jim Wells County came in with 202 votes. Of those votes, 201 were for Johnson and 1 was for Stevenson. The precinct gave Johnson an 87-vote margin of victory. Because those 202 votes appeared in alphabetical order and in a different ink color from the rest of the tally sheet, suspicions of voting irregularity arose. In an attempt to correct what he perceived as an obviously stolen election, Stevenson enlisted the help of his old friend, former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. Hamer was famously associated with the tracking and killing of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow while serving as a special investigator for the Texas Prison System. Stevenson and Hamer (and two of Stevenson’s lawyers) travelled to Alice, the county seat of Jim Wells County, to examine the vote tally sheets. The lawyers were allowed to see the tally sheet, which was yanked from them when the lawyers began to take notes. The lawyers noticed not only that the 202 voters had “voted” in alphabetical order, but also that the “7” in the original 765 total had been changed to a “9,” giving Johnson 200 more votes. The lawyers discovered that several of the voters listed were deceased and others had not actually voted. Stevenson petitioned the Jim Wells County Democratic party to certify a corrected tally. Johnson filed a lawsuit in Travis County to stop the meeting in Jim Wells County. The suit appears to have been filed at 9:50 p.m. and presented to Judge Roy Archer, who signed a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing a re-certification of the results. No notice was given to Stevenson. The TRO sets the temporary injunction hearing to occur in Jim Wells County. The TRO and bond are file-marked 9:55 p.m., five minutes after filing. Only then was Stevenson notified of the action by telegram. Another interesting aspect of this case is that the file was transferred to Jim Wells County at the request of the plaintiff, who had originally chosen and pleaded Travis County as a county of proper venue. No motion to transfer venue is in the file. Someone carried the file to Jim Wells County over the weekend because the temporary injunction hearing commenced on Monday morning following the Friday TRO. The file stamp from Jim Wells County reflects a Saturday afternoon filing. It is reported that no less than the “Duke of Duval” himself, George Parr, came to the temporary injunction hearing and sat at Johnson’s table. Litigation continued in federal court, eventually resulting in Johnson’s election being certified. This file is an insight into a colorful time in Texas history. It also evidences the ingenuity of Lyndon Johnson, which he later so ably displayed in the Senate. By Judge Ken Wise On Friday, Sept. 3, six days after the polls had closed, the results from Precinct 13 in Jim Wells County came in with 202 votes. Of those votes, 201 were for Johnson and 1 was for Stevenson. The precinct gave Johnson an 87-vote margin of victory.
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