A divided Third Court of Appeals panel dismissed as moot Republican candidates and groups’ lawsuit seeking to remove several Libertarian candidates from the ballot for not paying filing fees required by recently enacted Sec. 141.041(a), Election Code. The court determined that the suit, which was filed on the last day candidates’ names can be removed from the ballot, was filed too late.

“Even if this Court were to conclude based on the mandamus record that [Libertarian Party officials] have a statutory duty to declare [the candidates in question] ineligible, their names would remain on the ballot and any votes cast for them would be counted,” wrote Justice Chari Kelly (D) in the majority opinion (PDF). “No order that this Court might enter would be effective to change this result.”

Chief Justice Jeff Rose (R) dissented, but he generally agreed that the candidates in question could not have their names removed from the ballot. “I disagree with the majority’s conclusion that the relators are left with no legally cognizable interest in determining their opponents’ eligibility,” he wrote in his dissenting opinion (PDF). “Rather than dismiss these proceedings as moot, we should address the merits of relators’ eligibility challenges after allowing adequate time for briefing.”

A lawsuit filed four days earlier by several Democratic candidates and groups succeeded in removing three Green Party candidates from the ballot for not filing the required fees. Another candidate withdrew after it was revealed he voted in the Democratic primary, making him ineligible for the Green Party’s nomination.

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