Rival Press Conferences Help Detail Possible Vote Suppression And Voter Intimidation In Harris County By Conservatives
Rival press conferences were held today in Downtown Houston as details continue to emerge about what appears to be a campaign of suppression and intimidation against poor and minority voters by conservatives in Houston and Harris County, Texas.
One press conference was held by the non-partisan voter registration group Houston Votes, while the other was conducted by a right-wing group called the Liberty Institute and a local tea party outfit. I attended both events.
(Above–Houston Votes head Fred Lewis speaks at today’s press event.)
The Liberty Institute, a Tea Party group called King Street Patriots, and lame duck Harris County Republican Tax-Assessor Collector Leo Vasquez appear to all be hard at work to discredit the ongoing Houston Votes registration drive in Harris County. ( Mr. Vasquez was defeated in the Republican primary earlier this year. At the time, he thought one reason he had lost among Republican primary voters was that he is Hispanic.)
Houston Votes is seeking to register many thousands of poor, young and Hispanic persons for 2010.
Conservatives fear a Harris County electorate that mirrors the demographics of Harris County will assist Democrats.
The King Street Patriots say they have uncovered many fraudulent voter registration applications that have been turned in by Houston Votes.
Well…..they sort of say that. Here is what the King Street Patriots say on their web page—
“Thank you, Leo Vasquez! The Harris County Tax-Assessor Collector and his team are working hard to maintain the integrity of the voter rolls.”
“Today, the King Street Patriots, a group of citizen-volunteers in Harris County, Texas, announced their discovery of thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of incomplete, inaccurate or false voter registrations.”
Everybody involved are such good friends that they don’t care who gets the credit.
This friendship extends to hospitality as well.
King Street Patriots
9562 Hempstead Rd.
Houston, TX 77092
(This Tea Party/Perry connection was first pointed out to me by John Coby of the blog Bay Area Houston. The Tea Party says they want a new politics. Yet they support for reelection a man who already been the longest serving Governor in Texas history.)
At no point today during the Tea Party/Liberty Institute press conference was an association between the King Street Patriots and the Rick Perry campaign mentioned.
Yet such a connection seems to exist.
At the Houston Votes press conference today, Houston Votes chief Fred Lewis asked if Mr. Vasquez’s office would grant the same type of access to voter registration applications to all people as it seems has been granted to local Republicans.
The Harris County Democratic Party should be asking the same question. Tea Party actions in our public offices should be closely monitored.
Mr. Lewis is asking the Voting Rights Section of the U.S. Justice Department to get involved.
The King Street Patriots web page also says the following—-
“We need hundreds of volunteers to work as pollwatchers on Election Day. Click here to sign up now! Play Your Part in Keeping Our Elections Free and Fair!”
For what reason do they need “hundreds” of pollwatchers? Where in the county will these people be sent? Will they only challenge people of color or people they think for whatever reason might be Democrats?
Citizens of Harris County have the right to be free of harassment from Tea Party goons when taking part in early voting or when voting on Election Day.
The fact is that there is not much voter fraud in Texas.
As they are for every election, the stakes are high in 2010. In Harris County and in Texas, Republicans know they are fighting a losing battle against demographic changes that will elect many more Democrats to public office. Republicans will spare no effort to delay this trend for as long as possible.
An aggressive challenge must be offered to these seemingly well-orchestrated efforts to suppress turnout and to intimidate voters in Harris County in 2010.
(Below–The Tea Party/Liberty Institute press conference. They huddle the people of color up front to give an appearance of diversity that does not in fact exist.)