AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As previously reported, 2022 Texas Railroad Commission Republican Primary Candidate Marvin “Sarge” Summers, of Lubbock, died Tuesday on the scene of a crash in Midland. His passing not only prompted the grief of his loved ones and associates but left questions regarding his place on the ballot.
During a primary election, what happens after the death of a candidate? MyHighPlains.com reached out to the Potter and Randall Counties Elections Offices to discuss the different ways the Texas Election Code processes candidate death.
As explained by elections officials, the beginning of early voting in Texas – Feb. 14 – is too close to give an opportunity for Summers’ name to be taken off of the ballot. Therefore, voters participating in the Republican Primary Election should expect to see Summers as an option when they visit the polls.
Further, unless the Texas Secretary of State issued a directive to address it, election officials said that the office did not hold the responsibility to explain to voters that a specific candidate has died. Those votes submitted for Summers are also expected to be counted and cataloged, the same as votes for other candidates. That has left the possibility that Summers could not only receive votes during the primary but that he could win.
What happens, if he wins?
The 20th Amendment of the US Constitution described that if a president-elect dies before Inauguration Day, the vice president-elect would take the office. However, for a state-level primary, the process is different.
Election officials explained that the upcoming primary is party-run, with candidates being decided upon for the November election. In line with the Texas Election Code, if Summers wins the election, the 64-member State Republican Executive Committee would decide who would become the candidate for the general race.
However, that once again would change in a run-off election, which would be triggered by no available candidate winning with over 50% of the vote; a more likely outcome, noted election officials, the more candidates are in a primary. In the case of a run-off election, officials said that Summers’ name on the ballot would be replaced with the candidate that got the next-lowest number of votes in the initial election after him.
For example, if Summers and another candidate both received 50 votes in an election, and another candidate received 49 votes, the candidate with 49 votes would take Summers’ place in the run-off.
For the latest election information and local news updates, check with MyHighPlains.com.