Showing posts sorted by relevance for query texas voter fraud cases. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query texas voter fraud cases. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Let's keep talking about voter "fraud"

Until some people finally get it. This report was filed back on July 12 by the CBS affiliate in D-FW, though it is Jeremy Desel, a Houston reporter for KHOU, that filed it.


Here also is PolitiFact.

We also asked how many election fraud cases had been referred to the attorney general’s office since 2002. Abbott’s list shows 311 accusations of election fraud spanning 2002-12. The 57 investigations we’re checking represent only those cases that were both prosecuted and resolved.

Six of the prosecutions ended in dismissal or acquittal, Strickland told us by telephone, leaving 51 prosecutions that resulted in convictions.

By our analysis, three-quarters of the cases involved election code violations classified as "illegal voting" -- which includes acts such as voting more than once, impersonating a voter or voting despite ineligibility -- and "method of returning marked ballot," often meaning the defendant was accused of having someone else’s ballot.

Only two cases are described as "voter impersonation" on the list. Whether voter impersonation is a standing problem has been a hot button in the state’s legislative debates over proposed voter ID laws in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011; Austin American-Statesman news stories say legislators mostly split along party lines, with Democrats claiming impersonation is rare and Republicans claiming the problem is significant. Abbott drew criticism in 2006 for creating a special unit to target voter fraud that by mid-2008 had yielded, according to a May 19, 2008, Associated Press news story, only 26 prosecutions.

Looking at all 57 election fraud prosecutions from 2002 to 2012, we tallied up the resolutions (some had multiple outcomes, when charges were pursued as separate cases):
  • Specified as convictions: 26
  • Guilty plea resulting in conviction: 2
  • Deferred adjudication: 19
  • Pre-trial diversion: 10
  • Acquitted: 2

Out of more than 39 million votes cast in Texas over the past decade across the state in all elections, the number of convictions for voter impersonation fraud -- between 20 and 60, give or take 2 or 3 according to both links I embedded above and depending on how the term is defined -- represents, according to Desel and the most generous rounding (62/39,000,000), all of .0001%. That's one ten-thousandth of one percent. My calculator drives out .0000015, however.

Chances of winning the MegaMillions lottery: about one in slightly under 176 million. That's much poorer, by the way.
Chances of being struck by lightning: much better; 1 in 576,000
Chances of being killed by lightning (this happened in Houston to two men just last week): one in 2,320,000
Chances of being mauled by a polar bear and a regular bear at the same time: I don't know, ask the e-Trade Baby.

There are many more sightings of Bigfoot in the Lone Star State, and almost exactly as many reported captures of a live one... or a dead one, for that matter. There is a much greater likelihood of your becoming an astronaut, and significanty better odds that you can draw a royal flush on the first hand dealt than find a voter fraud conviction in the state of Texas.

When you say there is no voter fraud -- so small an amount that it is infinitesimal; essentially and statistically 'none' -- taking place in Texas, and your friendly conservative moron says "one is too many", or "we jes' ain't catchin' all the damn Ill Eagles", or "Mickey Mouse and the Dallas Cowboys are registered in Harris County", or "ACORN", be prepared. Keep a few facts to slap their dumb shit down with.

And don't forget to make fun of them for being so stupid.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Texas voter fraud cases in past eight years can be counted on two hands

Sometimes I really like it when Karvey Kronberg screams.

OUT OF MORE THAN 20 MILLION GENERAL ELECTION VOTES, LESS THAN 300 VOTER FRAUD REFERRALS HOUSE COMMITTEE TOLD

Actual instances of voter impersonation prosecuted with state involvement can be counted on two hands

House Elections (ed. note: this would be the Texas House committee on Elections) held another hearing today on voter fraud and as in previous hearings on the topic, state officials told lawmakers that reported instances of voter impersonation (the kind that a photo ID bill is designed to catch) constitute a tiny fraction of the number of voter fraud cases that are investigated at the state level.

A witness from the Attorney General’s office told the panel that since August 2002 nine cases involving illegal voting have gone through the complete indictment process and were fully resolved either through a guilty verdict, plea deal or a dismissal of the case.

Nine closed cases. Out of more than twenty million votes cast. Over the past eight years.

And how many legitimate votes do you think were NOT cast, because overzealous Republican precinct election judges violated the law by demanding ID at their polls?

This is the only purpose of a voter ID bill; to suppress turnout. To keep people that they don't like voting FROM voting. Because Republicans LOSE when more people vote. And they know it.

Update: Voter ID fight appears certain

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Monday Morning Wrangle from Far Left Texas


Lots to get to since I skipped the update at the end of last week.
How much time and space should I spend on documenting the atrocities associated with gun carnage just in Texas over the past few days?  Frankly it's too difficult to keep up with.  Perhaps I'll just point out that the bloodshed doesn't register with any members of the Lege that weren't previously concerned about it ... and that includes a handful of Democrats.


A reminder to Rep. Crockett that the open permitless carry bill passed with bipartisan support.

Two of the Democrats who voted for HB 1927 — Reps. Terry Canales of Edinburg and Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City — were expected because they were already joint authors of the legislation. [...] The five other Democrats who backed the bill were Reps. Tracy King of Batesville, Harold Dutton of Houston, Eddie Morales Jr. of Eagle Pass, Richard Peña Raymond of Laredo and Leo Pacheco of San Antonio.

(The tally was 87-58, which is to say that it would have passed without any Ds voting for it.)

So it is accurate to describe this legislation -- and a host of additional bills on voting rights, womens' rights, transgender childrens' rights -- as the extreme conservative faction in Austin going for broke.


Most of the Texblogosphere remained focused on the bills that will reduce voter turnout in order for the Republicans to maintain their grip on power.  The rationales are still flimsy.


And the costs more significant than who retains control of the state.


Kuff analyzed the propagandist's advantage in pushing voting restriction.  Rep. Erin Zwiener reacted to the passage of anti-trans bill HB1399, while Rep. Gina Hinojosa answers Dan Patrick's questions about voter suppression in SB7.  And Reform Austin covered Rep. Briscoe Cain's history of supporting laws that reduce the vote.


Alluding to Rep. Zwiener's Tweet embedded above, the most compelling testimony under the Pink Dome last week came from a ten year-old girl.


Yvonne Marquez profiled the notable trans-activist Shappley in Texas Monthly.  And the Dallas Voice compared these legislators to a pack of schoolyard bullies.


More about our lawmakers making bad laws, as referenced above.


I'll do Greg Abbott's polling against Matthew McConaghey, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz acting like fools again, some environmental, COVID, and election-related and social justice news later.

Chandler Davidson, professor emeritus of Rice University and one of the nation's leading authorities on voting rights in relation to racial equality and social justice, passed away on April 10.


I join the Texas progressive bloggers and the many students he mentored in grieving the death of Jim Henley: teacher, debate coach, CD7 challenger to John Culberson, and former HCDE trustee.


More on the way.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The last gasps of conservative extremism

They're dying hard, but they're still dying.

-- Keep in mind that Donald Sterling isn't a racist.  He told Anderson Cooper so.

"He's got AIDS!" Sterling said loudly at one point, cutting off Cooper as the interviewer attempted to cite (Magic) Johnson's accomplishments after Sterling asked, "What has he done, big Magic Johnson, what has he done?"

Sterling changed course briefly during the interview to call Johnson "a good person," but resumed his criticism.

"He acts so holy," Sterling said. "He made love to every girl in every city in America, and he had AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him, I hope he could live and be well. I didn't criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children?"

He's not a homophobe, either.

-- Lindsey Graham has decided he'll try to outlaw women's reproductive choice again. He's being primaried from the right, naturally.

The South Carolina Republican is organizing a group of his colleagues to speak in support of a bill that would federally ban abortions after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy, legislation that has the support of 41 Senate Republicans and has already passed the House. Graham is centering this legislative push on the May 13 anniversary of Kermit Gosnell’s conviction for killing infants that were born alive.

[...]

Graham introduced his abortion legislation in November and after a recent lull, the South Carolina Republican is ramping up activity alongside the Gosnell anniversary and — perhaps coincidentally — his own Senate primary in June, where he is trying to avoid a run-off by accruing 50 percent of the vote.

Because it's not whether you win or lose, it's how TeaBaggeringly thuggish can you act.

-- Ann Coulter got served, over and over again, on Twitter.  What she has also made a mockery of is the Republican urban legend of voter "fraud" (sic), the elaborate, well-established nationwide effort to intimidate minority voters from the polls.  Ann Coulter, you should be reminded, got away with actual voter fraud.

For more info and the complete documentation of Ann Coulter's well-documented voter fraud in Florida, and most likely in Connecticut as well, see BradBlog.com/CoulterFraud. (Here's a version of the full story, in one article, as it stood as of mid-2008.)

If you'd like more information on actual and apparent voter fraud by other very high-profile Republicans (none of which would have been prevented by the purposely disenfranchising polling place Photo ID schemes the GOP has been pretending are needed to stop "voter fraud"), please see the list included at the bottom of this article from just before the 2012 Presidential election.

Finally, for the record, please note that while a recent, non-partisan study of election fraud related offenses documented in all 50 states from 2000 to 2012 found just ten (10) cases of the type of voter fraud that could have possibly been deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions, there have been zero (0) calls by high-profile Republicans for the prosecution of Ann Coulter for the crime of actual, very well documented felony voter fraud that she absolutely committed.

-- It's not just Coulter, of course, that is completely immune to hypocrisy.  An ability to grasp even the most rudimentary irony is required if you're going to be a Republican these days.

For example, you have to be terribly concerned (to the point of, you know, outrage at your income tax rate) about your grandchildren's future because of the federal debt... but not about global warming, because that's a hoax.  Which is why it costs so much to combat it.

The largest, most-consistent money fueling the climate denial movement are a number of well-funded conservative foundations built with so-called "dark money," or concealed donations, according to an analysis released (in December of 2013).

The study, by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, is the first academic effort to probe the organizational underpinnings and funding behind the climate denial movement.

It found that the amount of money flowing through third-party, pass-through foundations like DonorsTrust and Donors Capital, whose funding cannot be traced, has risen dramatically over the past five years. In all, 140 foundations funneled $558 million to almost 100 climate denial organizations from 2003 to 2010.
Meanwhile the traceable cash flow from more traditional sources, such as Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, has disappeared.

The study was published  in the journal Climatic Change.

Liberals like Al Gore invented global warming, you see, in order to make money off of it.  They make much more money off the climate change "fraud" (sic) than Charles and David Koch make from polluting our air and water.  After all, the Kochs have only spent $67 million fighting global warming since 1997.  That's chump change.  Literally.



I mean, if it was a bigger deal, they would have spent more on it, right?  Created more jobs.


This sort of alternate reality delusional behavior is, as you know, everywhere you look.  Benghazi, Obama's birth certificate, death panels... on and on and on.  Climate change just happens to be the place where there is the most at risk and the most money involved.  The battle fronts in the Republican War on Earth include fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline, among others.


 It would be nice if we could just laugh it off.

After claiming on Sunday that human activity does not cause climate change, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) suddenly found his ignorance credentials under attack by potential rivals for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination.

“Now that Marco’s thinking of running for President, he doesn’t believe in climate change,” said Texas Governor Rick Perry. “To those of us with long track records of ignorance on this issue, he seems a little late to the rodeo.” 

Yeah, Texas Republicans.  Ignorant, arrogant, and built to stay that way.

And there's no place like my adopted hometown of Houston that better illustrates Upton Sinclair's words: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

That said, Ted Cruz's grandson and Pat Robertson's great-grandson will someday blame this on teh gayz or something. Or else they'll claim it's a sign of the Apocalypse. But, sorry, there will be no god magically rapturing you out of your flooded home, either.

It's times like these when I'm even more glad that I never had any children.  Because if I had, I would definitely be concerned for their future... having to live with so many stupid people.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Texas has had "fewer than five" voter impersonation cases

In the past three years. Via ThinkProgress, the San Antonio Express News' Gary Scharrer:

Fewer than five “illegal voting” complaints involving voter impersonations were filed with the Texas Attorney General's Office from the 2008 and 2010 general elections in which more than 13 million voters participated.


Less than 5 out of 13 million. Aren't those fairly close to the MegaMillions winning odds? As the e-Trade baby says, 'that's the same chance as getting mauled by a polar bear AND a regular bear at the same time'. So clearly there oughta be a law.

Texas has suffered from “multiple cases of voter fraud,” Gov. Rick Perry said in a recent FOX News interview, though the attorney general handled just 20 allegations of election law violations in the 2008 and 2010 elections. Most involved mail-in ballot or campaign finance violations, electioneering too close to a polling place or a voter blocked by an election worker.

The Texas attorney general's office did not give the outcome of the four illegal voting complaints that were filed. Only one remains pending, according to agency records.

Sen. Rodney Ellis nails it.

"(T)here are more UFO and Bigfoot sightings than documented cases of voter impersonation."

Meanwhile, back in reality...

The D.C. district court has set trial in Texas’ voter ID suit for July 9-13.

That’s nearly three weeks earlier than requested by the Justice Department and intervenors.

However, the court also directed that issues related to the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act be bifurcated from the main trial and said that those issues would “not be addressed unless the Court denies judicial preclearance of Senate Bill [14].”

Since that means that hearings on constitutional issues would take place only after a ruling on the preclearance claims (by definition some time after the July 13 end of trial), that would seem to make it less likely that the constitutional issues could be teed up in time to get them to the Supreme Court before the November elections.

So there's a strong possibility that we won't have to deal with this BS in this election cycle. Everyone should continue to train and inform as if we will, however. One last legal note about the most active vote suppressors in the nation, that little old band of patriots thugs who call Houston home.

“The Texas Democratic Party contends that the King Street Patriots made unlawful political contributions to the Texas Republican Party and various Republican candidates by training poll workers in cooperation with the Republican Party and its candidates and subsequently offering the watchers’ services only to the party and its candidates.” The group also held forums only for the Republican Party and its candidates.

The court split off the KSP’s constitutional complaints into a separate lawsuit and in an opinion issued today sided with Democrats, rejecting the constitutional claims. This will allow the Democrats’ clams to go forward.

Cutting the nuts off these feral hogs is a great first step toward resolving some of the vote suppression efforts in Texas and everywhere else.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"Voter fraud", "illegal immigration", and Saddam's WMDs

Q. Which of these things is not like the other?

A. The missing weapons of mass destruction -- you know, the ones hiding in Syria now -- actually could have been a problem at some point.

The other two are nothing more than conservative contrivances. Imaginary issues, in the mind of deluded conservative thinkers (oxymoron alert).

I'm going to write this verrrry slowly (and I'm going to quote someone who knows):

There is no mass voter fraud problem in Texas. There are no cases of voter impersonation that have been claimed or proven. There is no effort to steal the elections in Texas by getting people who aren’t citizens or who aren’t eligible to cast votes for anyone! There are already laws in Texas that require a voter to show an ID when they vote in Texas. These laws are working! We do not have any such problem!

But there is voter intimidation in Texas, and there have been situations where people have been turned away from the polls or have been forced to vote with a provisional ballot (of which 20% or fewer are counted). Texas has been and continues to remain subject to the Voting Rights Act because of our history of voter intimidation and voting rights abuses.

Maybe that is why Texas is second in population but only fifth in the number of voters who do vote.

Creating barriers to voting, no matter how well they are disguised, is still the wrong direction for us to take in Texas.


Now then, to the matter of undocumented workers:

The reason a certain cabal of certifiably insane Republicans despise Bush for not taking the action they desire is because Bush isn't going to piss off Bush Pioneers like "Swift Boat" Bob Perry, whose source of cheap labor to build his cheap homes would evaporate.

"Illegal immigration" isn't a problem to the country-club Republicans who run business in this country, it's only a problem to the GOP's bigot caucus. A substantial voting bloc, true, but since they don't have any money ...

Any questions, class?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The most pressing issue facing Texas

... is quite obviously not what the Texas Senate thinks it is:

Apparently unaware that average folk are tired of brazen power plays and politicians who don't get that it's about the economy, every Senate Republican except Dallas' John Carona circumvented long-standing legislative protocol to address a bill that solves no crisis.

The Republican majority — in its first act of the session — suspended the rule requiring the acquiescence of two-thirds of the body to bring a bill to the floor in order to ensure passage of a so-called voter ID law.

The proposed law would require Texans to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote.

Republicans, who used to run circles around Democrats in the political message department, took this issue up before addressing job creation, cash-strapped public schools and soaring higher education costs.

And for what? There is no evidence that unauthorized immigrants are voting even in a trickle in Texas.

Last year, the Bexar County district attorney's office completed a 16-month investigation into illegal voting. It resulted in misdemeanor perjury charges against two people — both of whom are U.S. citizens.

To boot, their cases had nothing to do with voting, but rather lying about citizenship status to get out of jury duty.

A slumping national and state economy, a disappearing budget surplus, children without health insurance and skyrocketing tuition costs, and the Texas Senate takes up, as its first order of business, a bill to outlaw unicorns:

You've seen them lined up around the block, the hordes of Mexican illegals waiting to get into the polls so they can vote twice.

They've sneaked across the border — not for roofing jobs, or to send money back home to their relatives. No, they've come here for EZ voting — that is, to vote for everybody whose name ends in EZ: Hernandez, Rodriguez, Martinez.

Texas Republicans know of this voter fraud problem. It's right up there in frequency with leprechaun sightings.

Then there's the old folks on fixed incomes. You know how those people are. They vote for Democrats, too. So the Republicans in the Texas Senate have passed a resolution that would allow a bill to be brought up that would require a photo ID to vote in Texas.

Hey, it's a jobs program. The Republican senators know that if they can keep enough Democrats from voting, they can keep their jobs.


So not surprised to see my spunky little senator Joan Huffman on the list.

The Texas House appears to be the chamber that will act with some measure of reason and tolerance during the 81st.

Oh wait; WTF am I thinking?

(T)he honeymoon for House Speaker Joe Straus was short lived. In fact, it ended on Friday, the minute he told reporters he favored Voter Identification:

VOTER ID — He voted for it in 2007 and thinks another examination of whether photo IDs are needed to combat polling fraud is appropriate. He said he does not yet know whether there are sufficient votes in the House to pass a bill.

I’m sorry, were House Democrats just so damned eager to get rid of Tom Craddick that they forgot to get any concessions worth a damned for all their troubles?

Somehow, I thought I heard whispered along the corridors of power in Austin that voter identification was dead because Straus wouldn’t bring it up in the House, no matter what the Senate did. I guess that’s changed in a week’s time. With rumors that he’ll leave State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) in charge of the House Committee on Elections as a concession to the rightwing members of his party running rampant as well, one has to wonder if House Democrats cobbled together a majority to elect a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

What’s going on? Is Straus just playing non-committal and not really going to let Voter ID have a chance, or is he seriously going to give it a chance, or did he just betray the Democrats–without whose support he would still be the junior legislator from Bexar County?



Denial of quorum, anyone?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Texas Republican overreach slapped down hard by feds

The maps drawn for the 2012 elections by the three-judge panel are a huge win, and in some cases are eye-popping.

Democrats could gain a half-dozen seats in the Texas House under an interim redistricting map a federal court released Thursday. [...]

The biggest changes in the proposed Texas House map, which was endorsed by two of the three judges meeting in San Antonio, appear to be focused in the Houston area and could cost the Republicans as many as three seats. Rep. Beverly Woolley's district was largely combined into Rep. Jim Murphy's, Rep. Ken Legler's reconfigured district is heavily Hispanic and Rep. Sarah Davis' new district was won in 2008 by President Barack Obama.

The two judges would also give Democratic state Reps. Hubert Vo and Scott Hochberg districts to run in, undoing the Legislature's combination of their districts. The U.S. Department of Justice said in a legal filing that combining the two districts violated the Voting Rights Act because it would reduce opportunities for minority representation.

Several Republicans got paired. Harvey K:

Under the House map proposed by the San Antonio judges, 12 districts will pair incumbents -- all Republican on Republican contests with the exception of two districts pairing an R with a D. No Democrats are paired in the interim map. It should also be noted that several incumbents on this list have either announced they are not running for re-election or running for a different office.

HD 2: Cain (R), Flynn (R)

HD 21: Hamilton (R), White (R)

HD 32: Hunter (R), Morrison (R)

HD 33: Scott (R), Torres (R)

HD 69: Hardcastle (R), Lyne (R)

HD 80: Aliseda (R), King, T. (D)

HD 85: Chisum (R), Landtroop (R)

HD 91: Hancock (R), Nash (R)

HD 109: Anderson, R. (R), Giddings (D)

HD 113: Burkett (R), Driver (R)

HD 114: Hartnett (R), Sheets (R)

HD 133: Murphy (R), Woolley (R)

Meanwile, here are the open House districts under the proposed interim House map:

HD 3, HD 14, HD 30, HD 35, HD 43, HD 57, HD 68, HD 88, HD 93, HD 101, HD 106, HD 107 and HD 136

Warrne Chisum is running for Railroad Commissioner, Will Hartnett and Beverly Woolley are retiring, and Joe Driver caught a felony indictment, so this isn't as bad as it looks at first blush for the Repugs.

More from Greg:

Some particulars of interest: Woolley’s old district (she’s retiring) is essentially folded into Jim Murphy’s. Scott (Hochberg) and Hubert (Vo) each have their own district. (Ken) Legler is toast. (Dwayne) Bohac would go another decade with a bullseye on his back. And HD134 (Sarah Davis) got bluer on the Obama numbers, so it looks like that one could come back to the D column. HD136 is outsourced to Waller County, so it’s a 24-district map for the county.

Even more impressive is a just-below 50-50 district in Fort Bend County that’s over 30% Asian. Beyond that, I’ve seen at least a couple of WD40 districts that might be regained. No time to get into Dallas, but I’m hearing three seats from there could come back.

And Wendy Davis gets her Senate district back.

All three judges agreed on what changes to make the Texas Senate map, essentially restoring the district represented by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, to the configuration it had when she ran for election in 2008.

The redistricting plan transformed Davis' district, which was seen as heavily competitive, into a Republican-dominated district.

Frankly, I'm slack-jawed over these changes. If the Texas House had included Democrats in the cartographic process during the last session, the D's could not have done themselves this much good.

And Photo ID skids out of the turn and slams into the wall, bursting into flames:

The Texas voter ID law, one of Gov. Rick Perry's top priorities during the 2011 Legislature, has been stalled by the U.S. Justice Department, which is insisting on demographic information about voters that state election officials say is virtually impossible to provide.

Texas Republicans expressed dismay Thursday after Justice Department officials said they need voter information about race and ethnicity before they can approve the controversial law, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2012.

The ruling raises the possibility that the law will not be in place by the March 6 primary.

Information that Texas election officials have provided "is incomplete and does not enable us to determine that the proposed changes have neither the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language group (required under the Voting Rights Act)," T. Christian Herren Jr., chief of the Justice Department's Voting Section, said in a Wednesday letter to Texas elections director Ann McGeehan.

Cue the whining.

The requested information will be virtually impossible to gather, said state Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, House sponsor of the voter ID bill, SB 14.

"I am disappointed," she said. "I don't know that the Secretary of State can provide the information in the format that they want. I am not sure that we will be able to satisfy them. I think it's ridiculous."

World's tiniest violin playing beside the River of Tears and all that.

"I am pleased that DOJ is asking the probative questions, which indicates they suspect the real issue is voter suppression," (state Sen. Rodney) Ellis said.

That's MY Senator. More in brief from TPM. Charles' rejoinder is best:

It’s amusing that the DOJ slapped down the SOS again the same week that Republican State Rep. Patricia Harless, who had said that the DOJ’s initial request for more data was “reasonable” and that the SOS should be able to respond quickly, published a lame pro-voter ID op-ed that essentially boiled down to “it won’t suppress as many votes as the critics say” and “it polls well”. I mean, Free Ice Cream Day would probably poll well, too, but that doesn’t mean it would be good public policy. Notably, Harless snuck in a bit about how voter ID would protect us from “fraud”, but nowhere in her piece did she document any actual examples of fraud that voter ID would protect us from. We all know the reason for that, of course, but then Harless can’t exactly come out and admit that the actual purpose of voter ID is to make it harder for some people to vote, as that might sound scary. But a discriminatory law by any other name would still discriminate.

Good Friday, everybody.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Still Early Voting Wrangle

In breaking developments late last evening in the Texas House Speaker's contest, Rep. John Zerwas of Richmond -- probably the most moderate Republican in the unofficial race for the post -- announced his withdrawal.  Forty House Republicans declared their support for Angleton Republican Dennis Bonnen, who had previously told the Texas Tribune he wasn't running for the job.  There will be more news in the days ahead as Democrats are huddling today to determine their course.

And with that as an opener, the Texas Progressive Alliance wants you to be sure to encourage your like-minded friends to get to the polls this week since we know you've already voted yourself.


Ahead of the midterms, NPR notices that our indicted felon/state attorney general Ken Paxton gets busy chasing ghosts ramping up efforts to "combat voter fraud" (sic).

Voting experts say actual instances of fraudulent ballots knowingly cast are extremely rare, leading to accusations that the effort is intended to intimidate voters.

"I think it's all politically motivated," said Greg Westfall, a Texas lawyer currently representing a Hispanic woman who was charged this month with voter fraud. "If you look at the timing, that's what's breathtaking."

[...]

"The fact that there is this concerted effort in Texas to prosecute these cases to the full extent – particularly against people of color – is supremely troublesome," (Beth Stevens of the Texas Civil Rights Project) said. "And then we know what happens in Texas goes to the rest of the country as a model."

Zenén Jaimes Pérez, the communications director for the TxCRP, said the attorney general's own numbers show that his office was tackling an issue that wasn't a growing problem, as shown by the small number of cases in the many years before the crackdown.

"They have prosecuted an average of around 30 election violations since 2004," PĂ©rez said in an email. "To be sure, the AG started the Election Integrity Initiative in without evidence of increasing elections violations," PĂ©rez said.

Beto O'Rourke's plan to maximize the African American vote in H-Town hit high gear over the weekend, with Say Something appearances by musical artists at EV locations around town, the Souls to the Polls rallies, and other efforts accounted by Justin Miller at the Texas Observer.


Even as another 'Beto as Superman' mural was unveiled in Houston ...


... the first, in East Austin and mentioned in this 'scattershot' post from Brains and Eggs, was defaced by MAGA vandals shortly after it debuted.

Rogers’s mural has been defaced phrases like "El Paso gentrifier supports Israel" and "No hero” spray-painted onto the artwork in red and white.

Socratic Gadfly does some number-crunching on the early voting surge and offers a quick hot take on what it might mean for the Cruz-O'Rourke Senate race.

Progrexas carries the piece from the TexTrib about how the statewide judicial candidates will win or lose solely on the basis of their party affiliation.


If anyone is poised to spoil (yet another GOP) sweep, it’s R.K. Sandill, a long-serving Democratic district judge in Harris County who’s consistently outraised his opponent, Justice John Devine. In addition to an impressive cash-on-hand tally, an endorsement from the Houston Chronicle and victories in the Houston Bar Association and Texas Bar Association polls, Sandill faces perhaps the most controversial incumbent on the high court. Before being elected to the high court in 2012, Devine was sued for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. Devine has also boasted publicly that he was arrested 37 times protesting outside abortion clinics.

See also this post at Brains and Eggs for the 'vulnerable, least discussed' Republican -- Presiding Judge Sharon "Killer" Keller of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals -- if the blue wave crests high enough on November 6.

Rewire writes about how a federal court in Texas -- Judge Reed O'Connor's in the Northern District -- will shape the legal fight under way over transgender rights.

Brandon Formby at the Texas Tribune describes the collision of rural and urban values as the high speed rail line between Houston and Dallas continues to move ahead.

Think Progress has details on far-right activists and militia groups headed to the southern border to stop the caravan of Honduran migrants (that are still a thousand miles away).

Earlier (last) week, the U.S. Border Patrol warned landowners in Texas that they could expect “possible armed civilians” on their property because of the news about the caravan. The exact details of when and where the militia would deploy are unclear, but one militia leader told the Associated Press that they would have upwards of 100 members guarding the Mexico-Texas border.

David Collins added some thoughts to Nick Cooper's (he's the drummer for local band Free Radicals) about the border wall.

Stace at Dos Centavos reflected on his weekend of politics y cultura.

The TSTA Blog resorts to begging teachers to support public education at the ballot box.

Texas Standard updates the story of the city of Houston's legal tussle with Southwest Key, the operators of a proposed child detention facility on the northeast side, in reporting that the city has rejected a settlement offer from the company.

A political sign opposing Prop 2 -- the Houston firefighters' pay parity proposal -- was tastelessly posted at the vacant site where five died and thirteen were injured fighting a terrible motel fire just a few years ago.  Fox26's Greg Groogan captured the reactions of HFD union head Marty Lancton and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

"I don't know how you walk up here and see five flags flying, the thin red line and the 13 that were injured and not understand that this is not the place to show your disdain and your vindictiveness toward Houston Firefighters," said Lancton.

[...]

At City Hall, Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is bankrolling the PAC and leading the fight against pay parity, stopped short of an apology.

"I don't know who put it there. I'm just saying whoever put it there, it's important to be respectful and not just of places, but family members as well," said Turner.

Stephen Willeford, the Sutherland Springs "good guy with a gun", is profiled by Michael J. Mooney in Texas Monthly.

Dallas City Hall has stonewalled a pair of open records requests by Downwinders at Risk regarding a mysterious clean air fund and a Joppa polluter.

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer thinks it's great that a rec center was renamed for Santos Rodriguez, the boy who was killed by a Dallas policeman in 1973 (updated by the Militant in this Wrangle from August).

Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current reminds us that some Christians do support progressive liberal ideas and politics.

CultureMap Houston describes how 'Old Spanish Trail', aka old Highway 90 connecting El Paso, San Antonio, and Houston and built over hundred years ago missed its intended history ... but created a new one that's now old enough for us to celebrate all its own, particularly in the Alamo City.

Grits came to Houston and took in a Contemporary Arts Museum collaboration by artists about the justice system (highly recommended).

Both CNBC and The Verge covered the news about the Sam's Club in Dallas which will be a cashier-less operation, similar to the five (so far) Amazon Go stores in Seattle and Chicago.

And Harry Hamid went out for a bottle of wine at midnight, took in the 'Trose scene, and got ready to tell another story.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Voter ID: solving a non-existent problem *update*

Floor Pass:

The main argument put forth will be that the only problem Republicans are solving by requiring photo identification in order to vote is the problem of citizens casting legitimate votes for Democrats. The people least likely to have photo identification—such as the elderly, the disabled and the poor—all belong to groups that vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

“The burden should be on the state to prove that there’s a real problem, that there’s no other way to deal with this problem, and that the state will not be precluding people from voting before it enacts this sort of legislation,” said Sen. Kirk Watson.

The only type of voter fraud that Voter ID prevents is voter impersonation. The Democrats will point out, as they did today, that one is more likely to be struck by lightning or see a UFO than they are to come across an act of voter impersonation.

Campaign Legal Center executive director Gerald Hebert said, “There is no widespread, organized, or even significant voter impersonation in Texas. Not a single case has been prosecuted in over 20 years. And I know, because I brought a lawsuit against [Texas Attorney General] Greg Abbott to prove that fact and he acknowledged that it was so.”

Greg Abbott sent agents from the OAG to peek in a little old lady's bathroom window, and he STILL couldn't find any evidence of voter fraud.

Many, many more Texans will be denied their vote because a volunteer poll worker would have the unquestioned authority to decide whether or not someone looks "correct". Think this an exaggeration? Well, it used to be the case during both the Jm Crow period, as well as the time prior to the suffrage movement in the US:

In Texas this week, debate opens on a proposal that places extraordinary identification requirements on citizens who wish to vote. The proposed law's ambiguous language appears to grant part-time, amateur polling place officials the absolute power to accept or reject a would-be voter based solely on that citizen's appearance or other subjective judgments. For the first time since women and blacks were granted the vote, appearance alone may disqualify a would-be voter.

But since this is the greatest single issue facing Texas today, the Republicans are going to make certain it passes.

Update:

"This hearing is a sham, just like your redistricting hearings were a sham," (civil rights attorney Gerald) Hebert said.

Hebert said the voter identification legislation is the "latest in a long series of attacks on minority voters in this state" and is part of a "long dark history of keeping people on the reservation through voting."

Hebert, who works out of the nation's capital, said there is no widespread "or even occasional" cases of voter impersonation in Texas.

He called the bill "raw partisan politics" by Republicans "to harm voters in their own state." Hebert said the bill will cost taxpayers millions of dollars to implement.


Follow the live action here and here. And more summary assembled at Off the Kuff. Still more play-by-play from Patricia Kilday Hart at Burkablog.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Weekly "It's Safe to Go Back in the Water" Wrangle

With the best of the left from around and about Deep-In-The-Hearta from the past week, the Texas Progressive Alliance isn't so sure that Mayor Vaughn is correct about there being no more sharks at Amity Beach.


Meanwhile, in Reality:


Nevertheless, the capitalists persist.



The displays are tapping into Trump’s main message on the coronavirus pandemic: governors are to blame for the crisis, not him. As the president ratchets up his re-election efforts, his argument is an effort to simultaneously put the brunt of responsibility for the coronavirus catastrophe on the shoulders of his political opponents while also maintaining that he holds “total authority” over the pandemic and the states facing it.

It’s an argument that resonates best in rural, redder parts of the country, which have not been hit as hard by the pandemic as blue, urban areas. Trump himself has said, “We’ll be opening some states much sooner than others,” despite pushback from legislators and business leaders alike about the current lack of mass testing.

And it’s a message of division, designed to pit Republican-voting areas of states against their Democratic-voting neighbors, even rural Republicans against urban Republicans. All this to activate white rural voters who supported Trump in 2016 and whom he’ll need again in 2020.

That's how it plays out here.  Greg Abbott's juggling act, with safety and science battling Dan Patrick and the pastors, has him spinning.  RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly was also unimpressed with Abbott's press conference about restarting the state's economy.


In times of personal crisis, Abbott always turns to Gawd his donors.


And demonstrates his inner Trump.


Shutting down government transparency has become a coronavirus symptom.



With the latest on voting-by-mail ...


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, vowed to appeal the ruling, arguing that mail voting could lead to fraud. Many states rely heavily on mail-in ballots and have had no significant issues with voter fraud. Five states already plan to run all-mail elections this year, and 28 other states allow voters to request a mail ballot for any reason. The Brennan Center for Justice found that the threat of voter fraud is “infinitesimally small.”


Kuff also looked at the initial ruling in the TDP's lawsuit to expand vote-by-mail access.  And via Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog, Chad Flanders and Kristen Spina write in Slate that the Texas courts should use the “democracy canon” to interpret excuse restrictions in absentee ballot laws.

As the ACLU stated it in its motion in the case, though, it’s arguable that everyone now has a “physical condition” that increases the “likelihood” that going to the polls might “injure[] the voter’s health.” (New Hampshire has interpreted its analogous “physical disability” provision in precisely this way) Paxton’s construction of the statute, meanwhile, also might mean that someone who actually tests positive for COVID-19 but is asymptomatic may not qualify for an absentee ballot, which seems absurd. As Vox’s Ian Millhiser wrote: “Either one of these interpretations of the Texas law is plausible, and a judge could reach either conclusion using methods of statutory interpretation that are widely accepted as legitimate.”

This is where Texas’ judges should turn to the so-called “democracy canon,” a method of interpreting statutes that is tailor-made for cases like this one. In his 2009 Stanford Law Review article about the method, University of California, Irvine law professor Richard Hasen offered a case citation that perfectly captures the heart of the democracy canon: “[a]ll statutes tending to limit the citizen in his exercise of [the right of suffrage] should be liberally construed in his favor.” In other words, when there is a “tie” in how to interpret the statute, the tie goes to the voter.

The case Hasen cited -- Owens v. State ex rel. Jennett -- was, in fact, a Texas Supreme Court case. Indeed, Texas historically adopted a fairly strong version of what Hasen called the democracy canon. In one appeals court case from the 1950s on the very subject of absentee ballots, Sanchez v. Bravo, a Texas court established a “clear statement” rule regarding restrictions on the right to vote. If a state is going to prevent someone from voting, the court ruled, they have to say so in “clear and unmistakable terms.” Otherwise, courts must read the law in a way that promotes “the right of the citizen to cast his ballot and thus participate in the selection of those who control his government.”

The Texas Green Party held their state convention over the weekend, and Howie Hawkins won the majority of presidential delegates.

The convention affirmed statewide candidates kat gruene for Railroad Commission, Charles Waterbury for Supreme Court Position 1, and (David B. Collins) for US Senate. None of us three paid the new filing fees to run, so under current law we will not appear on the general election ballot. As we have noted previously, a pending lawsuit may yet overturn the filing fee provision of HB 2504.

[...]

Based on the polling at countywide precinct conventions, GPTX will have 20 delegates for Howie Hawkins, 3 for Dario Hunter, 2 for Kent Mesplay, and 1 for Susan Buchser-Lochocki.


Some environmental developments include ...


The next Census -- whenever it takes place -- could well determine a future for Port Arthur as maintaining semblance of a city ... or not.


Trump's EPA rollbacks are punishing Port Arthur's residents as well.

Danielle Nelson’s best monitor for the emissions billowing out of the oil refineries and chemical plants surrounding her home: The heaving chest of her 9-year-old asthmatic son.

On some nights, the boy’s chest shudders as he fights for breath in his sleep. Nelson suspects the towering plants and refineries are to blame, rising like a lit-up city at night around her squat brick apartment building in the rugged Texas Gulf Coast city of Port Arthur.

Ask Nelson what protection the federal government and plant operators provide her African American community, and her answer is blunt. “They’re basically killing us,” says the 37-year-old, who herself has been diagnosed with respiratory problems since moving to the community after 2017′s Hurricane Harvey.

“We don’t even know what we’re breathing,” she says.


And like air pollution from fossil fuel producers, gun nuts aren't taking any time off, either.


Food concerns are moving to the forefront; Texas Standard reports that a statehouse committee chairman thinks that the meat packers are manipulating the price of beef.

State Rep. Drew Springer, chair of the House Agriculture and Livestock committee, has called for an investigation into the pricing practices of meat packers. Just four companies control 85% of the U.S beef market.

SocraticGadfly looked at restaurants by type and class, and wonders which will do better, which worse on surviving coronavirus.  The Lunch Tray noted a somewhat favorable ruling in a lawsuit over USDA school nutrition rollbacks.




And an Austin landmark loses its life to the coronavirus.


With all of this grim news, finding a bright spot somewhere can be difficult.  The Bloggess shares how she is coping.