True the Vote Texas Summit
On Saturday, January 15th, the King Street Patriots held their first Texas summit. The summit was an effort to recruit established Tea Parties from around the state and enlist their help in the effort to clean up elections. Approximately 70 people gathered for the summit, including representatives from 17 of the 20 largest counties in Texas.
Catherine started the day with a brief history of the King Street Patriots and why they focused in on the True the Vote initiative. Think voter fraud in the 2009 City of Houston municipal elections. After Catherine’s introductory speech, KSP Executive Director Mark Antill dove into the nuts and bolts of how they managed to have such a large impact in the 2010 elections. He also gave a demonstration of their new voter registration fraud computer system, which brings together several of the resources needed to find instances of fraud and is web-based. If you’ve ever tried to research voters, you’ll appreciate what they have done with this tool. No more searching one database, then another, then a third or fourth, then combining all of the results by hand. This will be a huge time saver for TTV volunteers, no question about that. Which means that each volunteer can run through more people, which means cleaner elections.
Next on the agenda were Alan and Colleen Vera. The Veras are in charge of Training and Education for volunteers of the TTV effort. They have obviously put in a lot of time and effort to do this, producing training videos, mock election scenarios, worksheets, and other aids all in the effort to maintain the integrity of the effort.
Anitia MonCrief was the “keynote” speaker. Ms. MonCrief is the former ACORN worker that helped to expose some of the fraud within that organization. She was able to give the attendees at the meeting a real sense of the vast network of fraudulent registrations throughout the country. After her speech, KSP volunteer Nancy Geigel gave a brief presentation on the internal workings at TTV on election day, calling it command central. It was very informative and should have given the attendees notice that this is not a static effort and will require much energy and flexibility. They had a network of “runners” to move documents around the county, judges on standby to sign affidavits to move poll watchers from location to location, and a central database for receiving “incident” reports from the poll watchers. Very impressive.
J. Christian Adams, a former Dept. of Justice attorney who is best known for standing up to Attorney General Eric Holder’s attempts to whitewash racial incidents of the New Black Panther Party, is an expert on election law and has been an invaluable asset to the True the Vote effort. He is currently trying to help them overcome Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan’s freeze regarding Open Records Requests. It is Mr. Adams’ contention that it is illegal for Mr. Ryan to put a freeze on ORR’s under US Code 1973, Section 6. Here’s to hoping he is successful and the very partisan Mr. Ryan gives up his ridiculous fight.
After that, a group from Resolute Media discussed various tools that the attendees could use to spread their message and get the word out. There was also a presentation of how to use social media by Giovanni Gallucci. The last speaker was Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute. Mr. Shackelford should be commended by all of us for stepping into the gap and defending Catherine and King Street from the vultures that are suing them.
The second piece of True the Vote is their push for specific legislation. As befitting a Tea Party 2.0 organization, they have produced a complete guide listing the changes they want to see in the Texas Election Code, which is so large that Exec Director Antill struggled to lift a paper copy. That thing must have been 10 inches thick! Here are the 22 items that they wish to focus on:
PHOTO VOTER ID
1. Require Photo identification to vote.
VOTER ROLL INTEGRITY
2. Prohibit payment of Deputy Registrars based on quota or number of registration applications collected.
3. Immediately terminate Deputy Registrars who submit incomplete or late registration applications.
4. Immediately terminate Deputy Registrars who sign registration applications they did not complete.
5. Increase penalties for forged or otherwise fraudulent registration applications .
6. Allow Registration Challenges based on knowledge of discovery by the voter desiring to challenge the registration .
7. Require mandatory training for Deputy Registrars .
8. Require Deputy Registrars maintain residence in State 6 months prior to deputization .
9. Require Deputy Registrars be registered to vote in the State in which they are collecting registration applications .
ELECTION PROCESS INTEGRITY
10. Allow Internet Voting for active military personnel stationed overseas.
11. Prohibit Same Day Registration.
12. Increase penalties for Electioneering Distance violations.
13. Require Election Officer complete Assistance Form each time assistance is provided to a voter.
14. Require Secretary of State identify and purge voter registry of deceased and felons at standardized intervals.
15. Require Courts provide Secretary of State with timely records of final felony convictions.
16. Require each election day Election Officer pass a mandatory test .
17. Allow recording devices inside the polling place, while still requiring confidentiality of voter and ballot.
18. Require confidentiality of identity and personal information of a Poll Watcher; impose penalties on any election officer who discloses such.
19. Require all counties adopt the TEAM system and support online operation.
20. Require peace officers serving in polling places to be TCLEOSE certified.
21. Require Presiding Judge obtain approval before ejecting an Alternate Judge from a polling place.
22. Designate English as the official language of Texas and the only language used on ballots.
Rather than just list these items, their guide has detailed support for each one. Click here to view the complete guide. Impressive work.
It didn’t occur to me until I was writing this that Catherine and her group might run into a few political hurdles unrelated to the actual legislation she’s pushing. Unfortunately, Catherine signed the Empower Texans letter that was a linchpin of the attacks against Speaker Straus. Given the way that Speaker Straus allows the committees of the House to do the work of the people, that probably isn’t a problem. But it turns out that Empower Texans was also behind the same type of smear campaign against Rep. Todd Smith in the 2010 primary. Rep. Smith won that challenge easily but it turns out that he is Chair of the Elections Committee, through which Catherine’s agenda must pass. Threats of “taking him out if he doesn’t do what we say” aren’t going to work against him because he’s already been down that road. Now what? This probably won’t be a problem because Rep. Smith is undoubtedly a better man than I but if I were the chair, after what these people did to me in the primary, I might be prone to ignoring their legislation. Know what I mean? It pays to be careful who you choose as friends and what you put your name on.
The True the Vote initiative is also going national, with their first meeting scheduled in March. I have no doubt that they will be successful nationwide. If other tea party groups would adopt their mode of business, picking one issue and mastering it, perhaps tea parties can hang around for awhile. I’m not holding out much hope for that but there is no question in my mind that True the Vote and King Street Patriots will be around for a long time. Think how effective we could be if the multitude of tea parties in Harris County split up the issues and gave laser, King Street like focus to a single local issue, such as Metro, City, or County spending. That would be awesome! Don’t hold your breath though because there isn’t a whole lotta ego stroke in that kind of work.