What once had stood as the filing deadline for candidates in the Texas party primaries came and went Wednesday evening with little indication that a resolution to a state redistricting roadblock is any closer to resolution.
The Brown County Elections Office received notification Wednesday that a federal court in Washington, D.C., has entered a minute order in the pre-clearance case telling parties that they should not expect a ruling for at least 30 days.
The Texas primaries have already been delayed once, from March 6 to April 3, and this development raises the probability that another delay may be forthcoming.
Some of the participants in the case had been expecting courts to rule by Feb. 15, and some had felt that a ruling might be entered by next week. In a hearing Friday, parties said it might be possible to salvage the April 3 election date if either of those timelines materialized.
The most immediate consequence of the D.C. court's notice is that the San Antonio federal court will almost certainly have to begin the process of drawing new interim maps for Texas districts, according to the notification received by the county elections office. It's a process that is expected to begin Monday if parties are unable to reach an agreement to take to the court for consideration.
Brown County Elections Administrator Suzy Young said she is concerned that voters will attempt to go to the polls on March 6 and find no one there.
"My biggest fear is that voters will get so disgusted they won't vote at all during the primary elections," Young said in an email to the Bulletin.
Meanwhile, new voter registration certificates have still not gone out because courts vacated the election schedule over the weekend, Young said. Otherwise, cards would be going out Feb. 13. Young said voters should keep the blue and white cards issued in previous years until the new ones are mailed. Changes in names and addresses may still be submitted, however.
In past years, those cards have been mailed in December.
Applications for ballots by mail cannot be accepted until an election date is set, because the first day that can happen is 60 days before the election.
Brown County Republican Party Chairman Brad Locker said Wednesday he has had several inquiries about filing for local offices, but those individuals cannot complete their paperwork and make their candidacies official until the new filing dates and election schedule have been determined.