January 16, 2005
So where's the fraud?

Sure does look like Andy Taylor's wild claims of massive fraud in the Heflin-Vo race are melting away, doesn't it? This article says that maybe a hundred noncitizens applied to vote in Harris County, a third of whom were rejected by the Tax Assessor's office. The one confirmed noncitizen who voted in the HD149 race - he got a voter's reg card despite checking the "not a citizen" box on the application, an error which one can attribute to the Tax Assessor - voted straight Republican. And Tax Assessor Bettencourt chalks this sort of thing up to mostly honest mistakes and bad paper processing.

Meanwhile, Hotshot Casey brings us the sad news from Taylor himself.

Heflin attorney Taylor says he hasn't seen anything that "rises to the level of fraud," but he has not yet questioned some people who are listed as having voted twice.

"There may be innocent explanations," he said. "I will accept those as true, then I will present to the House that some persons appear to have double-voted."

But Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, a Republican, says most or all of those "double votes" will "melt away" after accounting for typographical errors, clerical errors and people who didn't use early-voting forms that had been sent to them.

He said the level of improper votes in this election was not unusual.

"A lot of people don't have a firm lock on the county line down there," he said.

In fact, during a training session I attended for deputy registrars, Bettencourt was asked about what we should do if someone who might be in Fort Bend asks to be signed up. He said to go ahead, his office and his Fort Bend counterpart get a lot of each other's applications, which they pass along as needed, precisely because many people don't know which side of the county line they fall on. Seems to me that if someone from Fort Bend voted in the HD 149 race, it's either because they were issued an erroneous card or because the election judge at their polling place goofed. Maybe you ought to void such a close election as this one based on this sort of thing happening, but I sure don't see how you can claim that all of the votes - or even enough of them, as Vo would have needed to get 100 of the 167 "illegals" for them to have made a difference - were going one way.

Well, you could interview everyone involved, I guess. Or drag them up to Austin to testify before the House. Or you could maybe just accept that there was no fraud, just some confusion and human error among people acting in good faith, and get on with your life. Will you follow in Jack Stick and Eric Opiela's footsteps now, Talmadge? The choice, as ever, is yours.

One more thing, on a side note, from the first article:

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based group that pushes to reduce immigration, advocates a "national citizenship verification procedure" to ensure that voters in U.S. elections are citizens.

Federation President Dan Stein says it is virtually impossible to determine how many foreign citizens are voting here.

"Making false claims of U.S. citizenship is all but impossible to detect. It's a huge, gaping, massive hole in the whole integrity of our enforcement structure," he said.

Without citizenship verification, he said, Americans should have serious questions about the integrity of their electoral process.

"If we continue to have things like Florida in 2000 and these close elections being swung by ineligible voters, the very legitimacy of the electoral process itself is being thrown into question by ineligible voters voting," he said. "While we sit around concerned about hanging chads and whether votes are counted, no one seems interested in ensuring that people who register are citizens."

If Dan Stein and his federation sound familiar to you, it's because they were in part responsible for some real ugliness in last year's CD32 race. It would have been nice to find a non-crackpot to quote here, but then with immigration "reform" groups, it's not clear there's one to be found.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 16, 2005 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

Having lived in Fort Bend County (I now live in San Antonio.) from 1988 to 1994 (I was also ran an unsuccessful race as a Democrat for State Representative, Dist. 26, in 1992, against former Republican incumbent Jim Tallas.), I feel that I know Fort Bend County Democrats pretty well. Why would any Fort Bend County Democrat intentionally want to vote in the State Rep. Dist 149 race in 2004 when he/she could vote for the Democratic Party challenger Morrison against the hated holder of the Texas congressional dist. 22 seat, Republican Tom DeLay? Non of TX Cong. Dist. 22 falls within the boundaries of State Rep. Dist. 149.

Jim Koch
(210) 522-9579

Posted by: Jim Koch on January 18, 2005 8:58 AM

Why would any Fort Bend County Democrat intentionally want to vote in the State Rep. Dist 149 race in 2004 when he/she could vote for the Democratic Party challenger Morrison against the hated holder of the Texas congressional dist. 22 seat, Republican Tom DeLay?

Good point. I suppose, theoretically, that someone might figure the HD149 race was closer, and that their vote was therefore more likely to tip the balance there. But that seems like a pretty thin reason for 100 Democrats to commit vote fraud, especially since the CD22 race was clearly the more important of the two.

Posted by: Mathwiz on January 18, 2005 5:42 PM