July 30, 2017

Voter Beware

Ah, Texas: one of my favorite red states to write about, where everything is bigger and more bigly, even. Like their attempts to make sure voter fraud doesn't happen.

There are currently investigations under way in the Lone Star state to determine if there was some election fraud- which is absolutely a good thing. States should vigorously investigate and prosecute voter fraud, to protect the votes of the rest of us who participate in the process correctly and legally.  Here's what they're looking into, according to a Huffington Post article:
The Texas legislation comes as Dallas officials investigate a potential case of voter fraud. Election officials have sequestered 700 ballots from the city’s municipal election in May that they believe are linked to a fake name. Officials have also arrested a man they say collected a woman’s blank ballot, filled it out, forged her signature, and mailed it in.
As the investigation is under way, the Republican-majority Texas Senate is working simultaneously to strengthen the laws and punishment for such crimes. As part of that effort, they have dropped in language that appears to make it illegal for family members to talk to each other about elections or politics.

 Look at (a) (1) below (emphasis added):
SECTION 11. Amends Chapter 276, Election Code, by adding Section 276.013, as follows: Sec. 276.013. ELECTION FRAUD. 
(a) Provides that a person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally makes any effort to:
(1) influence the independent exercise of the vote of another in the presence of the ballot or during the voting process;
(2) cause a voter registration application, ballot, or vote to be obtained or cast under false pretenses; or
(3) cause any intentionally misleading statement, representation, or information to be provided to an election official or on an application for ballot by mail, carrier envelope, or other official election-related form or document.
(b) Provides that an offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) Provides that an offense under this section is increased to the next higher category of offense if it is shown on the trial of an offense that the defendant was previously convicted of an offense under this code, the offense involved an individual 65 years of age or older, or the defendant committed another offense under this section in the same election.
(d) Authorizes the actor, if conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, to be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
SECTION 12. Makes application of this Act prospective.
SECTION 13. Effective date: December 1, 2017.
Oh boy - my whole family would be in jail under this provision, especially if my Dad were still alive. He and I talked politics and current events from when I was a pup. I remember 'voting' in 1968, going with him into the booth, him picking me up so I tug the cranky lever over to close the curtain. I'm pretty sure let me push a lever or two - heaven forbid.

Yeah, we'd be in jail for sure, and we'd still be talking politics.

The pols say their intentions are pure - we can't have anyone try and influence an old person, or a disabled person, whether through coercion or by having someone else fill out their ballot without their approval, and what not -- things that are included in other sections of the statute.  All of those include family member exceptions, and are specific to the physical ballot, how it must be mailed, and so on.

Maybe it's just me, but this seems more an attack on freedom of speech than it does a protection of the sanctity of the ballot.

There's a chance that the bill will be changed when it goes to the Texas House, and per the HuffPo article, it seems even some Republicans are willing to consider changes.  There's probably an equal chance that no changes will be made, though...

Let's keep an eye on this one -- because if it flies in Texas, it'll likely be on the legislative slate in all of the other red states, as Republicans continue their march to voter suppression and driving election outcomes in any way they can.