Educating voters critical for write-in candidate seeking to return to the bench

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Judge Teresa Hawthorne has spent the election season speaking with voters on how they can support her candidacy as a write-in candidate, as well as, her qualifications. (Image: Via Hawthorne’s Facebook Page)

By Ruth Ferguson, NDG Editor

Judge Teresa Hawthorne’s name does not appear on the mid-term ballot. But she is still fighting to return to the District 203 bench for a third term. She has spent the election cycle educating voters on how they can return her to the court as a write-in candidate.

Hawthorne takes full ownership of the error which resulted in her name not appearing on the ballot for the Democrat’s primary in May. However, she believes a technicality should not prevent voters from deciding who they want to see serve. While she does not agree with the final decision, during a telephone interview with the North Dallas Gazette, Hawthorne never expressed bitterness or resentment over the experience.

“There was a blank line, I put the date; it should have been the word Democrat,” Hawthorne acknowledged. The party leadership elected to stick to the requirement and she took the matter to court and actually gained a ruling in her favor. However, nine hours later an appellate court ruled because the military ballots had already been mailed out without her name, she could not be added to the general ballot.

To appear on the fall ballot, a candidate must win a primary. Therefore Hawthorne’s name is not on the Nov. 6 ballot, and she could not run as a third party candidate at this stage.

“I did my research; it was too late [for the spring primary] to be listed an independent,” Hawthorne shared. Also, voting in the spring party primary would prevent her from being on the fall ballot. Therefore, Hawthorne refrained from voting in May.

If unsuccessful in her bid, Hawthorne will conclude her second term on the bench this year. Throughout her service and previous elections, she has gained support in the party including precinct chairs who raised concerns to the local party officials about her being left off the primary ballot. As a result, going forward, the party has agreed to type in this info instead of requiring a candidate to write it on their application.

The primary challenge for her campaign has been educating voters who wish to support her attempt for re-election to a third term. Hawthorne is realistic about facing a steep challenge, but her mission to help those who appear before her bench is essential enough to warrant the expense and effort.

“Rehabilitation sometimes takes longer than six weeks,” Hawthorne pointed out. “I may admonish them and put them in jail for a weekend, but I do not send them to prison,” she shared referring to non-violent defendants trying to get their lives on the right track.

Hawthorne believes the general public is unaware of the severe problems facing our criminal justice system and the difficulties a convicted felon faces after serving their sentence.

“I believe in integrating them back into society,” Hawthorne stated. She works with members of the business community to help them find jobs.

Recently a man she sentenced for a crime committed, came back to her court in tears.

“You told me if I ever needed help to come back,” Hawthorne shared. After he finished the terms of his conviction, he was now unable to find a job despite his efforts. “This is what causes people to re-offend,” she pointed out. Hawthorne made some calls and helped him to gain employment. Her passion for assisting individuals like this is a key reason why she has invested so much in this election.

Hawthorne has been busy on the campaign trail visiting various events hosted around the district. She was allowed to introduce herself and share information with audiences regarding the process of voting for a write-in candidate at all events, except for one which did not allow her to distribute info.

“Everyone else has been extremely gracious,” Hawthorne stated. She is particularly appreciative of the warm welcome received at the various churches in the Southern Dallas community. According to her, they have been more engaged in this race the North Dallas region.

To appear as a write-in candidate, Hawthorne paid the Secretary of State $2,500 for a blank line to appear on the ballot. It is important to note, only her name will be counted. If someone decides to randomly write in John Doe, themselves or a celebrity, for example, it will not be counted as an official vote. Also, if someone misspells her name, but it is clear the intention was some form of Teresa Hawthorne, it will be counted as a vote for her.

Hawthorne stressed a voter can still vote a straight party ticket for either the Democrats or the Republicans, and then write in her name. Their vote for all of the other races will remain unchanged from the party of their choice. Only the race for judge in District 203 will be changed.

During early voting, which begins on Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 2, voting is via an electronic ballot. A supporter will have to scroll down to the race for District 203, find the blank line, press the screen and when the keyboard appears, type in Hawthorne’s name. On Election Day, Nov. 6, the voter must completely fill in the oval bubble on the paper ballot before writing in her name on the appropriate blank line.