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October 24, 2010

Democrat Election Law Violations In Harris County -- And A Reflection On The Authority Of The Presiding Election Judge At The Polling Place

While Democrats are trying to gin up reports of voting law violations here in Harris County, poll watchers have documented a number -- some involving Rep. Sheila JacksonLee (Disgrace -- Houston).

Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Houston) violated election laws when, on Tuesday, October 19 [corrected: date was wrongly noted as the 18th], she entered into Acres Home Multiservice Community Center, walked to where the voting booths were looking for the poll watchers, greeted voters there, and then found and confronted the poll watchers before being directed to, and then asked by, the presiding judge Bernard Gurski to leave the area.

A source speaking on the condition of anonymity said that she heard people say that Sheila Jackson Lee was in the voting area. The lobby of the building was chaotic because some people were in line to vote and some people were in line for the food bank.

So the source, a poll watcher, went into the room housing the voting booths and there stood Congresswoman Lee shaking hands with voters and greeting others–clearly electioneering. The poll watcher then went to one of the clerks and asked the presiding judge to take care of it.

While this occurred, the poll watcher heard Lee loudly say to the crowd in the voting area,”I’ve heard a lot of complaints about voter intimidation by poll watchers. I am not going to allow voter intimidation.”

The poll watcher started writing the incident down.

Lee then went to the poll watcher and asked,”What’s your name? Who do you represent?”

A poll watcher is not allowed to speak in the polling area, so directed Congresswoman Lee to the presiding judge. The poll watcher said that Congresswoman Lee indicated that she wanted names to report to the Department of Justice for voter intimidation.

The presiding judge asked Congresswoman Lee to leave.

Apparently this joke of a congresswoman doesn't respect the law enough to realize that the mere fact that one is a legally appointed poll watcher does not constitute a violation of state or federal election law -- but her electioneering and attempts to intimidate the poll watchers does constitute such intimidation.

Frankly, this sort of conduct concerns me, especially in light of accusations of voter fraud and intimidation that have swirled around this election since before the fire that destroyed the county's voting machines. When I read reports like the one above, I find myself thinking that if anyone shows up at my polling place and conducts themselves in the manner reported, I might find myself compelled by law to exercise my authority under Texas Code § 32.075 (c) -- "a presiding judge has the power of a district judge to enforce order and preserve the peace, including the power to issue an arrest warrant" -- an exercise of authority that I've never done more than joke about in the past while setting up the polling place with my Democrat alternate judge. Indeed, when I helped conduct training seminars for my fellow precinct chairs a few years back, I explicitly told them that if they ever found themselves in a situation where they were considering the use of this authority, they should as themselves "do I really think this is a good idea? -- and ask the question every time they answered "yes" until they concluded the answer was "no".

For that matter, my general reaction to the accusations of voter intimidation that have been leveled in this election have been colored by my knowledge of the authority of the election judge under state law. If the sorts of egregious activities that some have claimed are going on outside the polling place are so readily observed, the presiding judge should be directing the arrest of those committing the violations. If poll watchers are acting beyond their permitted role and exceeding the legal limits of their appointment, the presiding judges ought to be ejecting them from the polling place under this same authority. They should not be turning over the names, addresses and phone numbers of those poll watchers to partisan elected officials who appear making demands for that information -- they should be using the phone numbers supplied to them in their election material and making the reports themselves. After all, we have all been trained (or will be trained) regarding these legal issues. There is a limit to who is allowed in the polling place -- and "Congresswoman strutting around electioneering, threatening credentialed poll watchers and demanding information from the election judge that is confidential by law" is not on the list.

The following is a list of the ONLY people allowed inside the polling place (early voting/election day):
a. Persons admitted to provide assistance to or to interpret for a voter who is entitled to assistance or to an interpreter.
b. Election judges and clerks
c. Poll watchers
d. Interpreters
e. Peace officers appointed by the presiding judge to preserve order
f. Those people admitted to vote
g. Children under 18 years old who are accompanying a parent who is admitted to vote
h. Officially credentialed inspectors from the Texas Secretary of State or US Department of Justice

I'm hoping that Queen Shelia's activities have been fully documented and submitted for prosecution -- as well as any other alleged excesses. At this point I'm quite concerned about what appears to be a concerted effort by the Democrats to intimidate poll watchers through illegal threats, violate of the confidentiality of their certificates of appointment, and to electioneer in polling places than by anything else I have heard about -- after all, the claims of voter suppression and intimidation made by the Democrats have been investigated and found to be without substance.





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Has anything come of the El Franco Lee event where he asked for and got names of poll watchers?

|| Posted by Mark Armstrong, October 25, 2010 09:52 AM ||
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