Vasquez throws a bomb at Houston Votes

I guess outgoing Harris County Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez wasn’t quite ready to return to obscurity.

Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Leo Vasquez accused a nonprofit group of submitting thousands of bogus voter registration applications in recent months in what he said appears to be a campaign to taint the voter rolls.

Vasquez said his office has received thousands of duplicate applications, including cases in which the office has received six applications for the same person. Other irregularities he cited in the more than 25,000 applications submitted by Houston Votes include cases of underage applicants and people who identified themselves as noncitizens.

“The integrity of the voter roll of Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name Houston Votes,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez lobbed these charges at a press conference that was more political rally than anything else, as he packed the place with the sort of people who are convinced that the streets are teeming with illegal voters. You can just imagine them high-fiving and chest-bumping in the background.

The accusations boil down to some number of duplicated registrations, and some number of registrations with invalid data. Seems to me that’s mostly to be expected in a large voter registration drive.

[Texans Together President Fred] Lewis explained that duplicates often happen when people are not sure whether they are registered or cannot remember if they have registered since they last moved.

Lewis said he had continued to try to cooperate with Vasquez, but that the tax collector, who serves as the county’s voter registrar, had not returned his calls in the past week. He said they had been scheduled to meet this morning to discuss Houston Votes applications.

“He is a disgrace,” Lewis said of Vasquez. “We need to have the Justice Department come in and see what Mickey Mouse stuff he and his office are doing to suppress people.”

It’s entirely possible that Texans Together has been sloppier than they should be. Maybe they’re not up to this task; maybe no one is. But to claim nefarious intent is quite a stretch, and I’ll be very surprised if the District Attorney, to whom Vasquez says he’s going to refer this, makes anything of it. I’m never quite sure how these schemes that Vasquez and his buddies dream about are supposed to work. Are all these people who’ve never voted before expected to show up at multiple polling places and hope nobody notices? Assuming that the bogus and duplicated registrations made it past both Vasquez and the Secretary of State, of course. Sure, that sounds bulletproof to me. I’ll bet Pat Lykos can’t wait to bring that before a jury.

I’ve also never quite understood why some people want to make it so hard for others to vote. I grew up believing that the right to vote was precious and what made democracy the best system of government there is. Apparently, that’s now a matter of partisanship. The story notes that much of the Texans Together board is made up of Democrats. Maybe that’s because the type of person who thinks it’s good for more people to vote tends to be Democratic. It’s been made quite clear in recent years that the type of person who wants to see fewer people vote tends to be Republican, that’s for sure.

Anyway, Houston Votes will have a press conference of their own today at 10:30 to formally respond to Vasquez’s allegations. I’ll update this afterward to include what they had to say. In the meantime, go see what Stace, Neil, John, Perry, and Houston Politics have to say.

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7 Responses to Vasquez throws a bomb at Houston Votes

  1. Mainstream says:

    It is silly to suggest that Republicans do not want qualified persons to vote. We ought to be able to come to some consensus that non-citizens should not be allowed to register to vote, and that persons should come with enough identification to the polls such that all observers can agree that the election is fair and no one is cheating.

  2. I certainly agree with the first part, and I’d be willing to agree with the second if that included a strong effort to ensure that every eligible voter had sufficient identification to be allowed to vote. The point I’m making in the specific context of this story is that it’s mostly Democrats who are trying to register voters, and it’s mostly Republicans – I’m talking here about Vasquez’s “True The Vote” supporters, who seemed to have inside knowledge of this whole thing – who are trying to stop them. More broadly, of course, it’s Republicans who have pursued voter ID legislation, which would for certain prevent many legal voters from exercising their right to do so.

    There is common ground here. I’d trade making the registration process less cumbersome and full-scale distribution of state-sanctioned ID to those who don’t have it in return for a photo ID law. I daresay many other Democrats would as well. But who on the Republican side is offering such a deal, or any other kind of deal? That’s where I’m coming from.

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