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Advocates For Full Voting Rights Speak Out On Allegations Of Voter Intimidation In Harris County

Above you see Andy Wilson of Public Citizen here in Texas speaking in Houston today about reports of intimidation of voters at polling paces in Harris County.

With Mr. Wilson to the left is Anita Privett of the League of Women Voters of Texas.

Here are details of this press conference from the Public Citizen blog Texas Vox.

From the press release—

“Last week as early voting for the Nov. 2 General Election got under way, there were complaints of poll watchers interfering with or intimidating voters and other potential election violations in Harris and Bexar Counties.  Our organizations–LWV-Texas, Public Citizen, and Common Cause–condemn any and all attempts to sway this election by controlling who gets to vote. The right to vote is sacred. People have died for this right, both in our nation’s past and even in our recent history.   Registered citizens should never be turned away from being able to vote.  Our greatest patriots, such as Washington and Lincoln, waged war to insure that taxation without representation did not occur and to protect the notion of government for, of, and by the people. It was a Texan, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who pushed through Congress and then signed the Voting Rights Act which protects the rights of all citizens to register and to vote. We want to encourage everyone, in Harris County, Bexar County, and across the state, to come out and vote, regardless of ideology, gender, race, income, whether your community is urban, suburban, or rural, and whether your preferred party is Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, or Tea.  Do not let tales of intimidation frighten you away…”

The Houston Chronicle has reported on these allegations of harassment.

Perry Dorrell at the great Houston blog Brains & Eggs has written on the matter.

All citizens have the right to vote. It’s a shame if that right is being questioned by some based on superficial differences of skin color or because someone may live in one part of Harris County rather than in another part of the county.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Here is the Houston Votes response to the politically motivated allegations that they are knowingly doing something that might be wrong.

Given the sources of the claims against Houston Votes, they are simply not credible.

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.”

Here is what Liberty Institute says about the same issue

“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.

Below you see where the Rick Perry for Governor campaign lists a major campaign event from July 31 as having taken place for the Houston area—-

Houston
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.

Top Houston political bloggers Stace Medellin, John Coby, Perry Dorrell, and Charles Kuffner have also been on top of this important story.

(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.)

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Houston Voting Rights Suit Filed In City That Does Not Respect Right To Vote

A voting rights suit has been filed in Houston. The contention is that the city should immediately draw new district lines and add two new city council seats to reflect growth and changes in Houston’s population. These new seats would possibly boost minority representation on council to better reflect Houston’s demographics.  

Here is the Houston Chronicle story on the matter.

Since the 2010 census is not so far away, I can’t say this matter moves me one way or another.  The issue will be resolved soon enough in any case.  

What strikes me is the irony in filing a voting rights suit regarding municipal elections in a city where most citizens don’t respect the right to vote in municipal elections. Please let me clear that I mean this for voters of all colors in Houston. My favorites are the runoff elections for at-large city council seats that attract 2% or 3% of voters.

And how about minority legislators who serve in Austin who come from terrible turnout districts and who rarely– if ever–open their mouths about the turnout? Want to file a voting rights lawsuit?  How about filing it against urban Democratic parties across Texas and the nation who acquiesce and enable this kind of stuff year after year?

How about filing this suit against the electorate as a whole in Houston?

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , | Leave a comment