Friday, June 12, 2009

Government official registers voters by day, sells lists of voters names to Republican candidates by night

Republicans in Texas have an absolute abhorrence for voter fraud, but only one kind. They are focused on voter fraud by individuals impersonating other voters, a form of voter fraud there is almost no evidence of. Because of this obsession, the recently adjourned Texas biennial Legislative session adjourned without accomplishing much of anything on badly needed bills because the Republicans demanded that a voter picture ID law be passed over the objections of the Democrats. Democrats are aware that this unnecessary legal provision will reduce the number of individuals who can vote by about 3% without changing the chances for real voter fraud.

Because the Democrats prevented the passage of the Voter ID law in this last legislative session, the Texas Governor Perry is going to have to call the Legislature back into special session this year. Texas law has the provision that special sessions can consider only the issues the Governor lists when he calls for the session. This is going to be thirty more days of legislative session expense caused because of the Republican Party's obsession with suppressing the votes of people who legally vote but are unlikely to voter for Republicans.

Here's one reason why the Republican obsession with retaining power is just flat wrong. From the Houston Chronicle we get the news story of the Harris County associate voter registrar Ed Johnson who by day determines which individuals who request to register to vote are allowed on the voter rolls as well as which provisional ballots are considered valid after elections. By night he is a Republican consultant, selling copies of the County's registered voter list to Republican candidates for office.
Ed Johnson is associate voter registrar at the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office, where he’s worked since 1999. He’s also a paid director for Computer Data Systems, a venture started in 2003 with state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston. The company sells the same voter information Johnson is paid by taxpayers to manage in a nonpolitical manner.


According to a recently dismantled Web site, CDS sells voter data to Republican candidates. No records indicating information was sold to Democrats could be found. Secretary of state records show Bohac as the registered agent and Johnson as a director.

Johnson’s party affiliation was not known on Wednesday, but he is known in political circles as a Republican consultant.
This stinks to high heaven. A related question is whether the voter suppression is occurring when individuals apply to be registered to vote in Harris County.
Last year, the Texas Democratic Party charged in a lawsuit that the Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office is rejecting voter applications at a much higher rate than any other Texas county elections office.

“Harris County had 70,000 voter registration applications rejected,” said Texas Democratic Party attorney Chad Dunn. “That’s exponentially higher than anywhere else in the state.”

Dunn said Dallas County rejected 1,800 for the same period, January 2006 through October 2008.

The two consultants also said they are concerned that Johnson’s role in the approval of provisional ballots may be tainted.

When voters show up at a polling place without their driver’s licenses or voter registration cards, but have proof of their addresses and insist they are registered to vote, they are asked to fill out provisional ballots. In close elections, provisional ballots are used. This past election, there were several close races in Harris County.

Cook said that while Johnson may not get the final say in deciding whether provisional ballots are used, “his office is one of the stops for provisional ballots.”
The threat of unauthorized individuals voting and swinging elections has never been documented to occur in any recent American election. Yet the problem of partisans who prevent their opponents from registering to vote or from getting to the polls in order vote have occurred frequently in recent years - actions by Republicans to suppress Democratic votes. [If there are cases of Democrats suppressing Republican votes, they are not reported in the media.]

What Johnson is doing is an example of a civil servant selling the products of his office for personal gain - pure corruption. He is also in the position to prevent people from registering to vote, which is suppression. The indication is that his office is acting to suppress votes (currently in litigation.) To this kind of fraud the Republicans are quite tone-deaf. But they know that if the public has the right to vote and is able to use it, they cannot win majorities of the votes for their programs. Pools show that the public rejects their policies. So that's why are working hard to limit the franchise to only conservative Republicans.

Hey! Why not? With Katherine Harris (Florida Secretary of State and simultaneously Co-Chair of the Bush for President campaign in Florida) scrubbing likely Democrats from the Florida voting rolls in 2000 they succeeded in holding the counted vote to such a narrow difference that the (Republican-dominated) U.S. Supreme Court was able to give the 2000 Presidential election to George W. Bush. The key was suppression of potential Democratic votes. They are still doing it as a policy of the party.

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