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A Poll Watchers Tale - Vote Fraud in Houston, Texas
Houston Area Texans - A FreeRepublic Network Chapter ^ | Saturday, November 2, 2002 | Flyer

Posted on 11/02/2002 4:50:19 PM PST by Flyer

Don't Mess With Texas!

A Poll Watchers Tale

Don't Mess With Texas!

My story of my experience training for, and working as a poll watcher applies specifically to Texas. This is my first time working an election of any sort, in any capacity. Those of you experienced in these matters may find some mistakes on my part, and those of you unfamiliar may find it eye opening.

I was appointed as a Poll Watcher by the John Cornyn campaign after attending a training session Tuesday, October 29. The session was organized by David Hagy, as part of his work with the Harris County campaign for John Cornyn. Our teachers were attorneys Andy Taylor and Amanda Peterson.

The class lasted about two hours and was very well presented and included comprehensive printed material to study and guide us through any vote challenges.

There were 25 - 30 trainees in this class. Another class was held the day before, and another one today, Saturday, November 2. Our class seemed to be intelligent and articulate, and grasped the material presented and asked many good questions.

I couldn't make a commitment to a possibly 14 - 16 hour shift on election day, so I chose to work early voting, where a poll watcher can work the hours of their choice.

Thursday afternoon, October 31, I went to the early voting location at the Palm Center, 5300 Griggs. The neighborhood population is primarily Black and records would probably indicate it votes heavily Democrat.

When I introduced myself to the Election Judge and presented my Appointment Certificate she looked at me with surprise and said "A poll watcher?!?", like she had just been insulted. She looked at my certificate and said out loud "Hmmm. . . from the John Cornyn campaign". The clerks near her heard that and gave me glaring looks. The whispers went around that a poll watcher was there and I sensed a lot of hostility.

In Texas, one of a poll watchers primary functions is to assure that those that vote are legally qualified to vote. I took a position near the clerks accepting voters and began my observations. My attention was soon drawn to the other clerks.

Three other clerks were walking among the voting stations, stopping at many of them to assist the voters. There are very narrow legal boundaries as to who can receive assistance with the ballot.

§ 64.031. Eligibility for Assistance

A voter is eligible to receive assistance in marking the ballot, as provided by this subchapter, if the voter cannot prepare the ballot because of:

(1) a physical disability that renders the voter unable to write or see; or

(2) an inability to read the language in which the ballot is written.

And there are clear rules on who can provide the assistance.

§ 64.032. Persons Providing Assistance

(a) Except as provided by Subsection (c), on a voter's request for assistance in marking the ballot, two election officers shall provide the assistance.

(b) If a voter is assisted by election officers in the general election for state and county officers, each officer must be aligned with a different political party unless there are not two or more election officers serving the polling place who are aligned with different parties.

(c) On the voter's request, the voter may be assisted by any person selected by the voter other than the voter's employer, an agent of the voter's employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union to which the voter belongs.

(d) If assistance is provided by a person of the voter's choice, an election officer shall enter the person's name and address on the poll list beside the voter's name.

During my training we were told to be a little understanding, as we are using the E-Slate system for the first time and many voters may have questions.

I brought this 'wandering assistance' to the attention of the election judge and she instructed her clerks to tell voters to ask for help if they needed it. Raised hands and calls for help abounded. I then reminded the judge that there should be two clerks at a station when assistance was needed. She replied that that was only the case "if two are available". The election code clearly states "two election officers shall provide the assistance", and makes no provisions for availability of officers. I was unsure on this at that time so I didn't dispute her.

As a poll watcher if I wish to challenge a voters eligibility to vote I must do it before the voter enters the voting booth. That is where my job ends. Except, as I was taught and the law seems to support, if a voter accepts unlawful assistance. One of my teachers, Andy Taylor, made a special point to cover this.

I began to observe the clerks assisting the voters. I was being very careful and allowed broad leeway in the help being provided. If I issue a challenge at this point the voters ballot will not be counted. It is not a responsibility to take lightly.

I found a violation I was ready to challenge. A clerk was watching over a woman's shoulder and as she turned the selector knob he would tell her "Hit enter". She would turn it more and he repeated "Hit enter". They were going through the entire ballot like this.

I approached the election judge and told her I was issuing a challenge for unlawful assistance, and I pointed out the booth with the clerk and voter. She didn't immediately respond and I turned my attention back to the voting booth, hoping to get this done before the voter left the building. Now the election judge is on the phone, in a frantic voice telling someone what was going on and that she didn't know what to do.

I asked to speak with the person on the phone and got his name as David Berg. He is an attorney, but I'm not sure what capacity he was working in. He told me I could only challenge the eligibility of a voter and the election judge did not have to accept this challenge.

I was just neutered. My training conflicted with what just occurred, the election judge was not going to accept these challenges and it was getting late in the day so I left the polling place, dazed and confused. Almost every voter at this location was being assisted illegally and there was apparently nothing I could do.

Friday I called David Hagy and told my story to him. Later that day I called one of my instructors, Amanda Peterson. She referred me the the Texas Secretary of State election hotline. The attorney I spoke with indicated I could not challenge unlawful assistance. The best I could do was to make notes of the offense and file a complaint with the district attorney.

I feel quite certain I was right in what I did and the training Andy Taylor gave me was correct. I am led to believe this because of this section of the election code:

§ 64.037. Unauthorized Assistance Voids Ballot

If assistance is provided to a voter who is not eligible for assistance, the voter's ballot may not be counted.

If I can't issue a challenge on unlawful assistance how will we ever know which ballot won't be counted?

I hope to get this resolved before Tuesday. Although I won't be working as a poll watcher that day, I want to get the correct information out to other poll watchers across Texas.

Friday afternoon I worked as poll watcher at a different location, the Fiesta store at 8130 Kirby. Wow, what a difference. Although this election judge seemed insulted at having a poll watcher at her location, too, we maintained a good relationship. The clerks were fast and efficient and I saw only a few minor slips and the judge corrected her clerks. A few voters could not be verified to be eligible and the judge turned them away, and I have no doubt that this would have been the same even if I was not there. The crew running this polling place deserve kudos for a great operation.




TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Texas; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: 2002election; california; democrats; elections; fraud; houston; pollwatcher; texas; votefraud
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1 posted on 11/02/2002 4:50:19 PM PST by Flyer
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To: 1riot1ranger; Action-America; Alkhin; Allegra; American72; antivenom; Antoninus II; anymouse; ...

As always, a FReep mail will get you on or off this Houston topics ping list.



2 posted on 11/02/2002 4:53:07 PM PST by Flyer
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Hmmm. . . what happened to my formatting??
3 posted on 11/02/2002 4:54:03 PM PST by Flyer
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To: Flyer
I would like to have gone for the poll watcher training but I was a little under the weather. I was worried about the long day on election day too. I used to be an election judge in a rural area but that was 25 years ago & I know a lot has changed. I know I would definatly need the training.
4 posted on 11/02/2002 5:05:24 PM PST by Ditter
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To: Flyer
Have you filed a complaint about that precinct......and secretly brought in a hidden camera??

You should do that ASAP and then bring the tape to the DA.
5 posted on 11/02/2002 5:05:40 PM PST by rwfromkansas
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To: Ditter
I am going to learn from this and be even more prepared for 2004.
6 posted on 11/02/2002 5:10:13 PM PST by Flyer
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To: Flyer
Thanks for all you did!!! :o)
7 posted on 11/02/2002 5:10:47 PM PST by Txslady
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To: rwfromkansas
I have to sign an affidavit stating I don't have any recording devices on me. The complaint may be made if it is determined I have enough evidence.
8 posted on 11/02/2002 5:12:12 PM PST by Flyer
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To: Flyer
Wow! This is incredible. Reading the law, you were clearly right to challenge the assistance with voting in the circumstance you described. What good are laws if they are not required to follow them? This is IMO, how democrats get elected to office. It is also why laws aren't followed.
In California, poll watching is a joke. We are not allowed inside the voting place at all! Imagine that!
9 posted on 11/02/2002 5:13:12 PM PST by ladyinred
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To: Flyer
The attorney you spoke to can't be correct. If you can't challenge for unlawful assistance, then the law is meaningless.

I still believe that the very presence of poll watchers deters fraud. You have no idea how many attempts were not made simply because you were there.

10 posted on 11/02/2002 5:13:19 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Txslady
Your welcome. I'm just one small part, but together we can end Democrat vote fraud.
11 posted on 11/02/2002 5:14:21 PM PST by Flyer
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To: Flyer
Good job dude, you did more than most.
12 posted on 11/02/2002 5:15:04 PM PST by jwalsh07
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To: ladyinred
We are not allowed inside the voting place at all

Uh. . . gee, may as well stay home. That is silly.

13 posted on 11/02/2002 5:16:25 PM PST by Flyer
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To: Flyer; backhoe
Great job, Flyer. Thank you for this report. During election 2000, there wasn't one case of real, documented voter "disenfranchisement" (military/absentees excepted), yet the press printed cases of "alleged" and "perceived" intimidation as real abuse.

What you witnessed was most definitely election mischief. Many of the election workers have been doing this for years, with no one holding them acccountable. They are in for a surprise this year, but will be properly "outraged" at poll workers daring to challenge their fraud.

14 posted on 11/02/2002 5:17:12 PM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: Flyer
We early voted Fri & I asked the woman/judge who was telling us about the new machine if there were any poll watchers there. She said if there were they didn't tell her. That isn't possible. There were 2 women just sitting watching I am pretty sure they were poll watchers (they looked like dems) LOL
15 posted on 11/02/2002 5:17:19 PM PST by Ditter
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To: Dog Gone
If you can't challenge for unlawful assistance, then the law is meaningless.

That is what I have to believe, too. I hope to have an answer by Tuesday.

I still believe that the very presence of poll watchers deters fraud. You have no idea how many attempts were not made simply because you were there.

Oh, I barely slowed them down. Maybe they just weren't as blantant about it.

16 posted on 11/02/2002 5:20:26 PM PST by Flyer
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To: Flyer
I hope you are not going to let this go. Go higher up the ladder with your findings - all the way up if you must. It sounds to me like the "helpers" were turning the dials to the Democrat candidates and then telling the voters to hit "enter". If you let this go, it will continue. We can't afford to lose this election. Please try harder. Stand with the truth and don't be intimidated.
17 posted on 11/02/2002 5:20:36 PM PST by Wait4Truth
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To: Flyer
My understanding is that you as a poll watcher could have gone and stood with the clerk and the voter and just watched. You can write up an affidavit of complaint and if the judge refuses to sign it then you can call the secretary of state. A challenge can be made during or after the voter votes only in the assistance of a voter. Prior to that a challenge has to be only before the vote takes place.

I am going to be a poll watcher this Tuesday and this is for the first time and it is my understanding that that is how assistance with voting is handled.

I hope not to be intimidated. Good job for volunteering for poll watching.
18 posted on 11/02/2002 5:20:38 PM PST by olliemb
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To: Flyer
Thank you for doing this....I'm from Houston originally, and know exactly what you were up against. Thanks again for devoting your time and energy to what's right :D
19 posted on 11/02/2002 5:21:32 PM PST by EmmaPeel
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To: jwalsh07
20 posted on 11/02/2002 5:21:34 PM PST by Flyer
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