Academic studies, media reports and fact based voter analysis consistently demonstrate that systematic, widespread or frequent voter fraud in Texas, or anywhere else in the United States, simply does not exist. Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, however, has directed a State House committee to conduct an interim study on voter fraud with the clear intention of recommending legislation to limit the ability of thousands of eligible Texans to vote. (See the order here)
At the same time, former Tom DeLay aide and current Tom Craddick ally, John Colyandro, who remains under felony indictment for money laundering and other charges, has formed a "think tank" that is already using faulty data and illogical statistics to justify vote suppression tactics.
These most recent Texas Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout are consistent with Texas AG Greg Abbott's taxpayer-funded phony voter fraud enforcement unit that the Lone Star Project has exposed and reported on extensively here.
Why do Tom Craddick and other Texas Republican leaders want to spend taxpayer resources to examine a problem that doesn't exist? Clearly Craddick, Abbott and others are attempting to justify dramatic changes in Texas law and election practices, including voter photo ID requirements, senior mail ballot restrictions and voter roll purges, that will reduce overall voter turnout as demographic changes take place in Texas that are increasing the influence of minorities in Texas elections.
Vince has more on this, including the interim charges by Speaker Craddick (a list of goals for the 81st legislative session, to begin in January 2009). I'll snip a piece:
Go here to see the facts about GOP voter suppression and the indicted felon running the show.
2. Examine the prevalence of fraud in Texas elections, considering prosecution rates and measures for prevention. Study new laws in other states regarding voter identification, and recommend statutory changes necessary to ensure that only eligible voters can vote in Texas elections. Specifically study the Texas mail-in ballot system, the provisional voting system, and the various processes for purging voter lists of ineligible voters.
I won’t even go into the whole Voter ID argument here. I’ve already made it, and if you read this blog regularly, you can recite it six ways from Sunday. If you don’t read regularly, go here for an education on this topic. As for the mail-in ballot and purging stuff, that’ll be some interesting study, I’m sure. Leo Berman will no doubt have Karl Rove on speed dial. Of course, what the committee does with this will (be) subject to some debate. The committee’s “swing vote,” or alleged swing vote during the 80th Legislature, Kirk England of Grand Prairie, is now a Democrat. Of course, the worst vote of his career was his vote for voter ID in the 80th Legislature. If he doesn’t come around on Voter ID during the interim charge process, then…well, you know.
And I owe a relatively long, minutia-filled posting about the sophisticated voter caging operation in place in Harris County, managed by the Republican tax assessor/collector Paul Bettencourt. That's forthcoming.