Watch Those Polls

Watch Those Polls

A month ago I linked here to a Houston Chronicle story about a fire that burned up pretty much all of Harris County's voting machines in the middle of the night. No one has nailed down exactly how that happened and whether it was bad luck or malfeasance, though no accelerants have been found. The timing was more suspicious than I immediately realized, though.

A local watchdog group called "True the Vote" had formed after their experience as poll-watchers during the 2008 elections curdled their blood. They decided early to focus their attention on homes containing more than six registered voters. Most voting districts had a couple of thousand of these. One had 24,000. That's where the group found that a group called "Houston Votes," headed by an employee of SEIU, had submitted 25,000 voter registrations, fewer than 1,800 of which appeared to be valid. Houston Votes issued the usual "mistakes were made" press release and fired some workers.

Harris County's voter registrar announced in late August 2010 that "the integrity of the voting rolls in Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name Houston Votes." The next day, the county's voting-machine warehouse burned to the ground.

It's always a good idea to serve as an election judge or election clerk if you can possibly spare the time. Even better might be to volunteer as a poll watcher. A good voter registrar can catch a lot of registration fraud, but if there's rot at the precinct level, nothing short of eyes on the scene on election day can stop some of the abuses. Without poll watchers, "True the Vote" never would have gotten started.

The Houston Chronicle, in the meantime, seems to have a complete blackout on any coverage of this fraud. The only place you can find it mentioned is in the reader comment sections. Such a pitiful newspaper for the second largest county in the U.S.

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