HISD School Board Trustee candidate concerned about name mix-up on ballot

The candidate fears the mistake will cost him the election
The candidate fears the mistake will cost him the election

HOUSTON – An HISD candidate said a mistake on the ballot could end up costing him the election.

While campaigning for HISD School Board Trustee, with signs reading “Mac,” which is an abbreviation of his middle name and what he’s known by, the HISD ballots listed Mac Walker under his legal first name -- Lee Walker.

Although the election is weeks away, officials said it’s too late to change it.

“I’ve got hundreds of signs and thousands of mailers that say Mac Walker,” he said.

This District 7 candidate acknowledges his legal first name is Lee, but he said most people wouldn’t know that.

“I’ve gone by Mac since the day I was born,” Walker said. “I filled out the application correctly, and apparently, it was a simple mistake HISD made and represented me by my legal name, which is Lee Walker.”

HISD released the following statement in regards to the mistake:

“The Houston Independent School District is aware of an error regarding the name of a District VII Board of Education candidate on the upcoming November 2, 2021, election ballot. Mr. Lee Macerlaen Walker’s application was filed in the Office of Board Services on Monday, August 16, 2021, and he was notified of its acceptance via certified letter on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. Mr. Walker’s legal name is Lee Walker, but he asked to be identified as Mac Walker on the ballot.

HISD acknowledges and takes responsibility for the error in inputting Mr. Walker’s name into the Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office Entity Portal.

As soon as we were made aware of the error, the Office of Board Services contacted our partners at Harris County, who administer HISD’s elections, on Monday, October 4, 2021, to fix the mistake. Additional efforts were made to remedy the error with Harris County and the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. However, it is our understanding from Harris County that the ballot cannot be corrected at this time. Mr. Walker’s legal name will appear on the ballot.

Corrective actions and systems in the Office of Board Services have been put into place to ensure that this does not happen again.

HISD is legally required to publish notice of its election in a newspaper (HISD will use the Houston Chronicle), on the bulletin board the District uses for posting notices of its board meetings, and on the HISD website. This notice will indicate Mr. Walker’s preferred name, Mac Walker, as well as the name Lee Walker that will appear on the ballot.  Although not required, HISD is also publishing the notice of election in the following publications: Forward Times, La Voz, and Vietnam Post.  Additionally, as permitted by the Election Code, HISD will mail the notice of election to registered voters in all five of the single-member districts having an election on November 2, 2021.”

“It’s a material issue because these races are typically decided by a few hundred votes. And I’ve already had voters contacting me asking if I was an imposter or if there was a different person named Walker running in the race,” Walker said.

Walker said early mail-in ballots with the error have already been sent out and Harris County refuses to recall and reprint them, which is why the machine ballots won’t be corrected. He said voters also won’t be advised if they ask questions, and crossing Lee out and writing Mac in would invalidate the vote.

KPRC 2 reached out to the county for an explanation but has not heard back.

On the other hand, HISD said it will publish a notice of the mistake in its upcoming election newspapers, which will have both of Walker’s names, as well as, send letters to constituents explaining the mistake.

In the meantime, Walker said he plans to keep campaigning and hopes people will simply search for his last name -- Walker.

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