Monday, November 05, 2012

Day-before developments

-- and Drudge riled up the local True the Vote pasty thugs with this.

Friday afternoon at an early polling place located at 6719 W. Montgomery Road in Houston, NAACP members were seen advocating for President Barack Obama according to volunteer poll watchers on location at the time.

According to Eve Rockford, a poll watcher trained by voter integrity group True the Vote, three NAACP members showed up to the 139 precinct location with 50 cases of bottled water and began handing bottles out to people standing in line. While wearing NAACP labeled clothing, members were "stirring the crowd" and talking to voters about flying to Ohio to promote President Barack Obama.

The Houston Chronicle reported the following on Sunday.

A disturbance at the busy Acres Homes early voting location Friday night was related to representatives of the NAACP protesting long wait times for disabled voters, county officials said Sunday.

An article on the website, linked on the widely read Drudge Report, stated that people wearing NAACP shirts "took over" the Acres Homes polling place, electioneering and voicing support for President Barack Obama while poll workers "did nothing."

Assistant County Attorney Doug Ray disputed that account.

 "It wasn't like they were taking control of the place. It wasn't like we did nothing about it. That's just not true at all," Ray said. 

You can read more about the he said/she said bullshit at the link (and don't miss the comments). Here's Rep. Sylvester Turner's account, via Carl Whitmarsh's e-list.

On Friday, the last day of early polling, I received several calls from people at the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center that seniors and disabled persons who were not physically able to walk and stand in the voting line and who requested a portable voting machine be brought to their cars were told to go to another voting location or come inside because the clerks were too busy. I had my chief of staff call the Secretary of State's office for them to advise those persons at the Acres Home Multii-service Center that the law required them to offer curb-side service to those persons unable to come inside to vote. Once I got there, I was also told that poll watchers with True the Vote raised complaints about persons wearing NAACP shirts being inside the polls giving people water and assisting those elderly persons who did come inside. The True the Vote poll watchers argued that the NAACP was a political organization that endorsed candidates and demanded that they remove or cover up their shirts.

Those of you familiar with the NAACP know that it has never endorsed political candidates and neither were the persons at the center advocating for any candidate or party. These so-called poll watchers also had problems with me being outside talking to voters. True the Vote is a political entity with a political agenda who has trained individuals to come into areas like Acres Homes, in my district, to attempt to intimidate and harass voters be they young or old.

Tuesday is the final day to vote. I am asking voters in Acres Homes and across Harris County to exercise your democratic right to vote and not allow anyone to intimidate or prevent you from voting. 

And so it goes...

Update: Isiah Carey reports that the HCGOP has filed suit. This should be as much fun as Gerry Birnberg's attempt to get Lloyd Oliver off the Harris County ballot.

-- Mailed ballots are likely to be 2012's hanging chads.

Sloppy signatures on mail-in ballots might prove to be the hanging chads of the 2012 election.
As Republicans and Democrats raise alarms about potential voter fraud and voter suppression, mail-in ballots have boomed as an uncontroversial form of convenient, inexpensive voting.

In the critical swing states of Ohio and Florida, more than a fifth of voters chose the mail-in option 2010. In Colorado, another battleground, the number was nearly two-thirds.
But there may be controversy to come. For a variety of reasons, mail-in ballots are much more likely to be rejected than conventional, in-person votes.

With the razor-close presidential election Tuesday between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney potentially riding on a few tens of thousands of votes in a handful of states, the election could be decided by election officials' judgments about mail-in ballot signatures.

"You would worry that in Florida, in particular, the new hanging chad becomes whether you count this absentee ballot or not based on whether the signature is right," said Charles Stewart III, co-director of the Voting Technology Project and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor.

I have a personal account about this to share.

I was appointed by the Harris County Green Party to serve on the Early Voting Ballot Board last month, but the presiding judge (a Democrat) had me (and other Greens) removed in a parliamentary procedure. He called a vote on our fitness to serve based on the fact that we voted in the Democratic primary. When the County Clerk informed him that the Texas Election Code deemed that procedure illegal, the presiding judge resorted to having us dismissed because there "wasn't enough work for us to be needed".

You may recall that I mentioned Charles Kuffner's (and the County Clerk's) numbers here for Harris County mailed ballots: a total in excess of 66,000, almost 14,000 more than in 2008. That's as of last Friday; more are arriving in the mail over the weekend, today, and tomorrow. The ballot board's charge is to have these all counted by Election Day. Some ballots arrive afterwards and are added in the final canvass, but all votes arriving before ED must be counted by ED.

Normally an EVBB judge like myself would be bound by oath not to reveal deliberations of the board like this. The reason I am writing about it is because the presiding judge neglected to have me sworn in.

I'll have more to say about this in the future, but it's going to have to wind its way through a handful of lawyers first.

-- On a last and lighter note, here's a slideshow of some of the memes of the 2012 campaign. They left several out IMHO so it's hard to pick a favorite among these, but I'll go with this...

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