Fort Bend Democratic Party Chair Stephen Brown Talks About Protecting The Right To Vote In Texas In 2012
General Election time is approaching across the nation and here in Texas.
Early voting begins in Texas on October 22 and runs through November 2. Election Day is November 6.
There have been many concerns in the 2012 election season about efforts to suppress the vote and to deny people the right to vote.
I asked Steve Brown, who is Chairman of the Fort Bend Democratic Party here in the Houston area, to write about these issues for Texas Liberal.
Above you see a picture of Mr. Brown.
Here is what Mr. Brown had to say—
October 22, 2012 will be my Election Day. It marks the first day of early voting in Texas. This year, I’m not waiting to vote on Tuesday, November 6th – and for good reason.
Since 2009, a Houston-based Tea Party affiliate, “True the Vote,” has led a crusade advocating for laws found to intentionally suppress the votes of minorities and the poor. At their annual 2012 conference, they vowed to recruit over one million poll watchers for Election Day. These self-proclaimed voter fraud vigilantes want to use their poll watchers to intimidate and challenge minority votes at the polls this Fall.
True the Votes’ modus operandi is clear. They are targeting minorities, the poor and students. They want to purge voters, challenge the right of eligible voters to cast their ballots and bully everyone else on Election Day.
In a recent report Bullies at the Ballot Box, Common Cause examines True the Vote and the state laws that are intended to protect voters from unnecessary harassment. They found that True the Vote has built a reputation of hovering over people as they vote and engage in confrontational conversations. In almost every case, they chose polling locations in predominately minority communities. Some voters were overheard leaving the booths in tears saying that they would never vote again. They also found that Texas law could be stronger by placing the burden of proof on the person that’s challenging someone’s right to vote and not the voter.
I’m voting on October 22nd because on Election Day I’ll be watching the bullies, and making sure that they don’t harass any eligible voter.
There’s a practical reason why I’m voting early as well. As a Party Chairman, I know that the more “certain” Democratic voters that I can turnout on the first week of early vote, the easier it is for me to target new and unlikely voters. Democrats have a history of being outvoted during early vote, so we spend all of Election Day trying to catch up. By voting more Democrats early, we can focus our attention on persuading a larger universe of Democrats unlikely to vote that their vote matters. With limited resources, I would much rather spend time persuading those Democrats as opposed to dedicating dollars to target procrastinating Democrats.
Due to redistricting, some Election Day polling places may have moved. I would hate for someone to go to the wrong location, and risk not being in line by the 7 PM deadline. Early voting is much more flexible allowing voters to cast their ballots at any location within the county they reside.
This election is too critical to wait until November 6. I don’t want to wait to see what scheme True the Vote is hatching next. I’m pledging to vote on the first day of early vote. Before we go to work, we should vote. Before we take our kids to day care, we should vote. Before running our errands, we should vote.
We should be the first person in line to vote on October 22nd, because some would wish for us not to vote at all. #WeVoteFirst