Voter registration group Houston Votes has inundated the county voter registrar's office with faulty registrations, including multiple applications for the same voters and for noncitizens, registrar Leo Vasquez said. He likens it to ACORN.
Two Texas activist groups, Houston Votes and Texans Together Education Fund, were accused Tuesday of an organized voter fraud campaign by Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez, who likened the groups to the now-discredited ACORN.
“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,” Vasquez said at a 2 p.m. press conference at his office, where he also released copies of applications in some of the most egregious cases.
Houston Votes is the get-out-the-vote arm of the Texans Together Education Fund.
“Evidence shows that the Houston Votes and Texans Together organization are conspiring on a pattern of falsification of government documents, supporting perjury in a deliberate effort to overburden our processing system," he said.
Vasquez said he is turning evidence over to the Secretary of State’s office and the Harris County District Attorney’s office for further action. He called into question more than 5,000 voter registration applications.
Vasquez' office announcement was based in part on research by a conservative-leaning citizens' group, the King Street Patriots, which had presented his staff with documentation of questionable voter registrations, a leader of the Patriots group said.
Texans Together head Fred Lewis said that he has worked with Vasquez to clear up any discrepancies until recently.
"He is a liar and a political hack," Lewis said. "We are going to the Justice Department to make sure he doesn't make a mockery of the voting process."
Lewis and several others from his group seeking to help register voters attended classes offered by Vasquez' office. The group took more than 50,000 voter registration forms, Vasquez said.
But “after observing consistent and repeated patterns of apparently fraudulent or excessively sloppy work,” Vasquez and his deputies called Lewis and other group members into the office for a conference. The parties went over the troubling elements of the registrations.
Among the problems were multiple applications for one voter, some registered voters being signed up again and voters who claimed to have no Texas ID, driver’s license or Social Security card.
Lewis confirmed the meetings and said that some of his field people charged with registering voters were let go.
“We sat down and said, ‘Let us know of these problems, and we will take care of them,’ Lewis said. “We fixed every problem they brought to our attention. We cooperated.”
Vasquez contends they did not rectify enough issues and his office spent “thousands of dollars in taxpayer money” to go over the submitted documents in an attempt to straighten things out.
He alleges Lewis and his operations have violated Texas Election Code, submitted falsified documents and “possibly violated federal election laws.”
No wrongdoing: Houston Votes
Sean Caddle, the director of Houston Votes, admitted that there may have been “mistakes made” by his vote gathering team, but said Houston Votes did nothing wrong and called it a legitimate program.
After Caddle was shown examples of Houston Votes workers registering one name – Carmella Bellazer – with the same date of birth six times on the same day, he said “that probably would be a clear case of fraud.”
Caddle is a former Service Employees International Union worker from New Jersey and also recently worked in Colorado as part of a voter registration effort there linked to the effort that turned the Centennial State from a solid red state to a Democratic stronghold.
Catherine Engelbrecht, the leader of the King Street Patriots, said she became interested in digging into voter fraud after working the polls in November and seeing the potential for fraud.
“That set things into motion,” she said. “It stood to reason where the was smoke there was fire. It didn’t seem the process was tight at all.”
In the coming months, she and hundreds of other volunteers decided to start digging into public records and the group's True the Vote initiative was born.
“We’re just digging it up and passing it to the proper authorities,” Engelbrecht said.
King Street Patriots' research
First, the group looked at all homes with more than six registered voters. They zeroed in on one congressional district, she said, that had more of these homes than others: District 18, home of Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Engelbrecht said, though, that the group's efforts were not about partisan politics. She also says her group has begun examining every single voter on the registry – not just those in a particular Congressional district.
“This is so not about party,” she said. “This is about maintaining the integrity of our voter rolls.”
Lewis said he was aware that a right-leaning group had submitted documents to Vasquez, though he didn't know of the Patriots by name. He said he felt Vasquez' action was politically driven.
While Lewis maintains his group is nonpartisan, its board is decidedly liberal-leaning, according to research by blogHouston, which noted earlier this month that the Texans Together board included a Bill Clinton appointee, Democratic consultants and an aide to former Gov. Ann Richards.
Lewis said that he and Vasquez, a Republican lame duck, had a meeting scheduled for Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., but he is now not sure it is on, in light of Vasquez' announcement.
Photo of election signs by flickr user meltedplastic, used via a Creative Commons license.
Tuesday, 08/24/2010 - 10:54PM
Lots of good information here, thanks! A few questions came to mind while reading... How does True the Vote gain access to Harris County voter rolls? Isn't that information (e.g. SSN, DOB, address, email, etc) classified as personal and private? Are TTV's volunteers all deputized through the HC Voter Registrar and granted access?
Second, shouldn't a distinction be made between the *potential* for voter fraud and actual documented voter fraud and vote stealing. Are the numbers for Harris County available? I'm curious as to what kind of story those numbers tell; though I'm sure the concerns of King Street Patriots' Catherine Engelbrecht are legitimate, I'd welcome the hard numbers as well! Many thanks from a fellow concerned voter!
Wednesday, 08/25/2010 - 07:31AM
This was to be expected given the bs 'settlement' of the Democrat Party vs Harris County Registrar lawsuit. Our commissioners set this up and must bear responsibility for it. A pox on commissioners, on county attorney and Democrat water carrier Ryan and HCDP head Birnberg.
Wednesday, 08/25/2010 - 07:41AM
It sounds like Leo Vasquez has a big ass to grind. Literally.
Lee Ann O'Neal
Wednesday, 08/25/2010 - 10:31AM
To the questions raised by O. Ortiz ... I can't speak for how True the Vote went about their research, but I did want to respond to your question about the voter rolls. The list of registered voters is a public document/database that can be obtained by anyone - you, me, activist groups, etc - from either the local election officials or the Secretary of State. In a lookup form, the info is available here too -- http://www.hctax.net/Voter/voter.aspx. I have accessed the voter rolls here in Harris County and in another place I worked in North Carolina as a reporting tool, though we never published any living person's date of birth. Date of birth can be so helpful, though, to avoid misidentifying someone in a story --- good article on that topic here http://www.foift.org/focusindex/dob.html. I believe here in Texas you must also sign a document promising not to use the voter registration data for a commercial purpose, under penalty of law.
Thursday, 08/26/2010 - 09:47AM
Voter Irregularities/Fraud and SEIU. Where there's smoke, there's fire. Tip of the iceberg, I'm sure. Goes hand-in-hand with dems wanting to turn Texas blue(anyway they can).
Texas expatriot from Colorado
Thursday, 08/26/2010 - 02:58PM
I guess it slipped your mind about how Tom Delay connived to steal the lege so he could maneuver “W” into power, huh???
Friday, 08/27/2010 - 07:08AM
It's called "re-districting", for the uninitiated.....like you. But of course you left out that not only did political hack-job Ronnie Earl fail in his attempt to "get" Delay, I beleive ole Ronnie's in some real trouble himself...... no?????
Wednesday, 09/01/2010 - 02:15PM
This is Democrat and Obama politics pure and simple. The idea is to get that hack called Bill White elected Governor. One of the people is a "former" SEIU worker, that spells fraud right there. Where are the black panthers?
Wednesday, 09/01/2010 - 05:46PM
Well, the same old story. Get caught with your hand in the till--no-ballot box, and play the race card.
Thursday, 09/02/2010 - 08:20PM
Such scherades by Demos&Repub have given rise to the TEA party.Any wonder. Is there no cure for stupid?
Thursday, 09/09/2010 - 11:56AM
Problems could be solved with real voter registrations & actual voter Id's. By establishing real voter Id's & by vetting them long before elections, with photo's Id's, much of these problems would be solved & we all could be sure of the integrity of our elections.
Now, exactly who does not want to verify voter ID & be able to verify exactly who votes, etc.? Seems to me if one opposes real registration & ID, w/ photo, one really wants to be able to manipulate the vote. Since once one is registered & has a voter ID w/ photo, it becomes very difficult to play games with who voted, when, etc. Now why would one want to avoid making sure?