You never know what will happen at the Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club’s weekly meetings. Some meetings feel like battles. Some are informative. Some are out of control. And some, like yesterday’s meeting, toss the featured speaker aside and get taken over by self-proclaimed “experts”.
Former state rep and mayoral candidate Fernando Herrera was the featured speaker. His subject was supposed to be examples of voter fraud in the recent election. I don’t know if he had any examples of that or not because he didn’t get a full opportunity to speak. He started with a sort of insider view of what he’s been through in two campaigns and as an alternate judge and interpreter at the polls.
It was interesting even if most of his examples were anecdotal. He mentioned the buses that pulled up behind a polling place in 2010 and the riders were allowed to go in the back way and vote. He talked a lot about President Obama’s program to stop deporting children of illegal immigrants, and the problems that it will create. He told of some voters asking for “proof” that they voted because they had been told that they cannot get their food stamps without it. He said that when he saw how easy it was to get registered to vote, he called the County Clerk’s office and asked if anyone verified the information on the applications. When he was told that the state did that, he called the Secretary of State’s office and they told him that they didn’t check, that it was an honor system, and that if someone was falsifying information, they would eventually get caught. Karma,you know?
He was interrupted several times with questions – that is normal, it happens to most speakers at these small events, including me. No big deal. But finally he became frustrated and decided to just open the floor to questions and that is when the “expert” took over. The “expert” being Ed Johnson, who works for County Clerk Stan Stanart. Ed is generally considered an “expert” in Republican circles when it comes to elections. Why I’m not sure but perhaps because he usually stands up and says something like, “I’ve been doing this forever, let me clear up some things”.
He told Fernando that he was wrong about the state not verifying the information because they have a direct link to the drivers license database and to the Social Security database. He claims, despite what Fernando was told, that if the information on the application doesn’t match, the registration is rejected. Of course, if the application is blank on those two items, the application is approved.
Ed also talked about how ridiculous it is to have the County Clerk responsible for running the election but not allowing him to pick the people running it. He claimed that the Harris County Democratic Party turned in a complete list of election judges and alternates with extras, and these extras had to be used because the Harris County Republican Party was short by a hundred.
When a couple of people whined about the Democrats registering more voters than Republicans, Ed chimed in with his “knowledge” that there were 3,000 deputy voter registrars in Harris County and that he could count on one hand the number of Republicans. He also thinks that it is a crime that no one is ever prosecuted in Harris County for filing a false voter registration application.
You know what? I’m tired of “experts” in the Harris County Republican Party that do nothing but whine about what the other side is doing. One of the audience members tried to make the point that we need to change the vacancy committee’s approach of “purifying” the party but she was shut down and ignored. She’s right – the problems we have are internal. If it bothers you that Harris County Democrats registered 86,453 new voters between September 1st and the deadline to register, stop whining, get off your butt and go register some people!
There are times when I leave a meeting and my outlook about the future of the Harris County Republican Party is brighter. Then there are times, like yesterday, when I walk out wondering why I’m hanging out with a bunch of whiners. I called Fernando and told him that I felt bad about Ed taking over the meeting. Typical of Fernando, he was gracious and said that he wasn’t upset about it, it was just one of those things and it wasn’t going to prevent him from pushing ahead. We need more Fernando Herrera’s and fewer whiners.