Monday, August 30, 2010

Voter Registration Fraud Cited In Houston

Houston, we have a voter registration fraud problem. This speaks to the mess that has been uncovered in Harris County.

Here you can watch a report from a local Fox affiliate.

Not long ago, I learned of an organization from fellow Houston blogger, David Jennings - who publishes the Big Jolly Politics blog. He attended an event put on by HoustonVotes and a couple of his points from the event caught my attention about their voter registration incentives for their workers: *Houston Votes currently has 50 paid canvassers working four hours per day, averaging 6 registrations per worker per hour and
*They are giving away Astros tickets and a condo vacation as incentives to the workers who register the most voters.

These two points sent up red flags to me as they smack of the potential for corruption. Monetary and other compensations as 'rewards' or incentives don't always bring out the best in people. I'm just sayin'.

Delving a bit and learning more about the folks behind the event, I find that Houston Votes is a get out the vote offshoot of Texans Together Education Fund.

An excellent post by blogHouston's Kevin Whited concisely describes the organization and its board members' backgrounds.

A Houston area organization, King Street Patriots, has developed a program named True the Vote. The True the Vote initiative began after Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of King Street Patriots, witnessed what she considered potentials for voter fraud during the last election. She was concerned with actions she saw as she worked the polls. While Houston Votes would like to brush them off as just another Tea Party organization, the fact is that King Street Patriots works with more than local Tea Party organizations. They show on their website cooperation with other organizations, too. The common thread is fiscal conservatism and working against corruption in government. So, there is the friction between liberal vs conservative organizations. As Texas Watchdog points out, though Texans Together claims to be non-partisan, it is decidedly liberal in leadership posts.

Leo Vasquez, a Republican soon to be out of office, is Harris County Voter Registrar. He is called "a liar and a political hack" by Fred Lewis, head of Texans Together. Vasquez alleges Lewis and his organization "have violated Texas Election Code, submitted falsified documents and 'possibly violated federal election laws.", according to the article by Texas Watchdog. Vasquez says he'll turn over information received from King Street Patriots on voter registration fraud to the Secretary of State's office. He alleges he has over 5,000 voter registrations in question.

News conferences from all parties were called and publicized. Then an interesting development made news. All of the Harris County election pieces of equipment - 10,000 in total - were destroyed in a warehouse fire. This warehouse is the only place where the voting equipment is stored. The building is not one that is required to have a sprinkler system and does not. Arson teams are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Quite a coincidence.

With Early Voting for the November elections beginning in mid-October, a scramble has begun to purchase or borrow voting equipment.

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