For Immediate Release, June 17, 2016, Jerad Najvar, Attorney, (281) 404-4696 ---
AUSTIN – Yesterday, June 16, 2016, City Council member Don Zimmerman filed a formal election contest to challenge the misleading language City Council approved to describe Proposition 1, a proposed amendment to Austin’s ride-sharing regulations, on the May 7, 2016 ballot. “Regardless of your position as to what regulation is appropriate, the voters are entitled to a fair ballot description,” Zimmerman said. “This is a matter of principle. A majority of the City Council decided to use language that highlights the fingerprinting issue, and that’s fine. But if you’re going to talk about fingerprinting, then the proposition should have explained that the City Council’s current version doesn’t actually require all drivers to be fingerprinted, or even background-checked at all. In fact, under current law, people only have a 50% chance of getting a driver who has undergone any kind of background check by August of this year, fingerprints or no fingerprints.” The City’s ballot description also failed to mention the fiscal impact of the amendment, including the 1% annual fee imposed on the TNCs and the fact that the amendment would have saved taxpayers money by eliminating various programs and spending provisions related to TNC regulation. "The ballot description ignored the clear mandates of Texas law, I believe deliberately, in order to confuse voters and doom the vote on the amendments,” continued Zimmerman. "So this goes beyond one election. If the City can get away with confusing voters to manipulate election results, then who is going to go through all the hard work it takes to get a petition on the ballot? This case is not about Uber and Lyft. It’s fundamental. It’s about your right to petition your government and have an honest election.” Zimmerman’s case is styled Zimmerman v. Adler, No. D-1-GN-16-002583, pending in the 200th District Court of Travis County. However, a visiting judge from outside Travis County will have to be appointed, and the case will be joined with a similar suit filed May 10 by Austin voter Martin Harry, styled Harry v. City of Austin, No. D-1-GN-16-002031. Zimmerman is represented by election-law attorney Jerad Najvar of Najvar Law Firm, based in Houston. Najvar has recently prevailed in an election contest in Hidalgo County, and in several constitutional cases against the Federal Election Commission, Texas Ethics Commission, and City of Houston.