Elected officials who represent Tarrant County’s minority communities have asked the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to investigate County Judge Tim O’Hare and other county officials over concerns that their actions will diminish voting rights.
The letter, signed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and six other Democrats, cited the recent resignation of Elections Administrator Heider Garcia and the creation of an election integrity task force.
Veasey signed the letter with Tarrant County commissioners Alisa Simmons and Roy Brooks and state Reps. Nicole Collier, Ramon Romero, Chris Turner and Salman Bohjani.
They ask that the Justice Department review the actions and give them a written response about how the Civil Rights Division can end a pattern of “voter intimidation and harassment” in Tarrant County.
“As elected officials representing districts that are predominantly communities of color in Tarrant County, we are deeply concerned that recent actions by Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare and other county officials will further diminish the voting rights of those we represent and undermine their ability to freely and effectively participate in elections,” the letter states.
The rhetoric around voter fraud is eerily similar to the rhetoric used in the 1880s to justify laws meant to disenfranchise people of color, Veasey said in a phone call Tuesday afternoon.
He pointed to persistent rumors of Black voters engaging in so-called “voter fraud” at the Charles F. Griffin Subcourthouse on Miller Avenue in East Fort Worth. He said this is an old pattern of thought that seeks to demonize voters of color.
In Parker County, where a majority of voters typically support the Republican Party, it would be crazy to claim voter fraud because Democrats didn’t get more votes, Veasey said.
“Why is it acceptable to make those same outlandish claims about Black and Brown people in southeast Fort Worth?” Veasey said.
There’s a copy of the letter embedded in the story. Ginger ably covered the Heider Garcia situation in the April 21 Dispatches. Obviously I support this and I strongly suspect there will be much for the Justice Department to find, but let’s be clear about a few things. One, we really need a new federal Voting Rights Act to truly discourage racist local and state governments from this kind of chicanery. Two, we need to either rein in the rogue Supreme Court or put a fence around voting rights legislation so they can’t screw with it; both would be fine, too. And three, we need to elect better governments here in Texas, and there in Tarrant County. Of the three members of that “Election Integrity Commission”, the Sheriff is up for election in 2024; he ran a bit ahead of the pack in 2020, so he won’t be easy to dislodge unless Tarrant goes full-bore blue next year, but it’s doable. We’ll have to wait till 2026 for the other two, but knocking one of this unholy threesome out would surely send a message. Anyway, kudos to all for the initiative. I’ll keep an eye on this. The Fort Worth Report has more.