As it did in 2008, the Texas Democratic Party has sued the Harris County voter registrar in federal district court for what it says are violations of voter registration laws, political favoritism and violations of voter privacy.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday with the federal court's Southern District, is the latest shot across the bow of registrar Leo Vasquez, who on Aug. 24 accused two Democratic-leaning activist groups of organized and systematic voter fraud involving more than 5,000 applications for voter registrations.
The lawsuit takes exception to Vasquez' making public the voter registration applications in question and making them available to a Tea Party activist group called the King Street Patriots, which has publicly pledged to monitor voter fraud in Texas. The suit says Vasquez "resisted" turning over the same documents to officials with the Harris County and Texas Democratic Party organizations.
The lawsuit also accuses Vasquez of violating a 2008 settlement of a lawsuit accusing his predecessor, Paul Bettencourt, of practices that blunted the ability of citizens to register to vote in a timely way. Both are Republicans. The original suit was settled without Bettencourt addressing whether the allegations against him were true or false.
"Given Mr. Vasquez' actions last week, we have been forced to take legal action to make sure his office does not repeat the same kind of practices that denied almost 70,000 Harris County citizens the right to register and vote in 2008," the Texas Democratic Party said in a press release issued after the suit was filed.
Exhibits in the lawsuit:
Exhibit A, the settlement agreement in a 2008 lawsuit by the party against then-Tax Assessor/Voter Registrar Paul Bettencourt
Exhibit B, letter from a Harris County attorney to the Justice Department and dated Jan. 21
Exhibit C, press release and materials issued by Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez on Aug. 24
Previously posted documents related to this story:
A press release from Houston Votes, Aug. 27
A briefing packet distributed to reporters by Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez, Aug. 24
A statement from Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez, Aug. 24
A news release from Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez, Aug. 24
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo of a gavel by flickr user Joe Gratz, used via a Creative Commons license.