Friday, March 30, 2012

Voter registrations In Harris County to be mediated today

A little meeting today over the Harris County tax assessor/collector's continuing efforts to thwart voter registrations.

Harris County officials have rejected far fewer would-be voters since 2008, but Democrats are demanding more proof that voter rolls are not being illegally suppressed -- particularly among Hispanics -- as another U.S. presidential election approaches. The two sides will meet in secret mediation Friday as Democratic officials seek assurances the county is following the terms of a 2009 settlement reached after the party challenged Harris County voter reviews in a federal lawsuit. The county's voter registrations have remained fairly flat at about 1.9 million since 2008 (emphasis mine), failing to keep pace with a boom in the eligible voting population. "Harris County continues to fall behind other large cities. Harris County rejects far too many applications and removes far too many eligible voters from the rolls," Chad Dunn, an attorney for the Democrats, told the Houston Chronicle.

Sumners has severely curtailed efforts to recruit and train deputy voter registrars as well. Sumners is in fact a tool of the King Street Vote Suppressing Thugs, about which much has been written here.

Sumners said he believes more applicants were rejected in 2008 primarily because a group of deputy voter registrars working for nonprofit groups turned in thousands of duplicate, illegible or incomplete applications. He said he hopes that the quality of applications in 2012 will improve under a new law requiring deputy registrars to complete mandatory training. But Dunn told the court that party leaders need more information to confirm applications are being reviewed as the settlement requires. U.S. District Court Judge Gray H. Miller, who oversees the settlement, ordered both sides to meet with a mediator Friday. If the dispute is not resolved, a hearing has been set next week.

Sumners, in the first sentence of the above graf, refers to Houston Votes, which as an offshoot of Texans Together conducted voter registration drives in minority neighborhoods prior to the 2010 election. Those efforts were effectively demonized by Sumners' predecessor Leo Vasquez, the KSP/True the Vote pasty gangsters, and pretty much every conservative media outlet they could find.

On and on it goes. Progressives encourage people to vote, conservatives restrict it. They only want their voters to vote. They cannot win if more people vote. That "center-right" urban legend is thus advanced. It is fallacy that conservatives represent the view of Texans and Americans when 50% of the population doesn't vote and hundreds of thousands more -- perhaps millions just in Texas -- are prevented from voting. Update: Big Fat Republican Bloggers have their own take.

But conservatives would go further if they could, restricting voting to taxpayers and/or landowners exclusively. That's where we're eventually headed, and Texas will lead the way.

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.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is wearing a hoodie this week as it brings you the blog roundup.

Many groups and organizations provide guides telling you who to vote for. This year, Off the Kuff has a guide of who not to vote for in the 2012 Harris County Democratic primary.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is angry that Republicans are all about manipulating personal liberties and imposing their specific religious rules on America, while allowing a real crisis to get worse: GOP Candidates Ignore Water Crisis, Prefer Religious Culture Crisis. On top of imposing their narrow religious interpretations to the general public, Republicans want a dumber America: Corporate Religion, Corporate Education and the Mental Devolution of America.

BlueBloggin sees that Trashing Texas Is BIG Money For Republican Donors and Rick Perry.

We've moved so far to the right, as a state and a country, it's hard to see how we move back. WCNews at Eye On Williamson points out that A Budget for All is the place to start.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw explains the Texas version of the Republican assault on women. Check out Rick Perry's and the Texas GOP Unrelenting War on Women.

Annise Parker is quite possibly the best mayor Houstonians could have ever hoped for, if you consider her actions from a moderate Republican point of view. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs breaks it down.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows Republicans just pretend to like the troops. Words are cheap, just like them.

Neil at Texas Liberal continued to focus on the fact that the Texas forced sonogram law is state-mandated rape. In the week ahead Neil will post a letter he co-authored asking Amnesty International to come to Texas to investigate this human rights abuse.

Bay Area Houston comments on the GOPs' 'Don't Re-Nig' bumper sticker.