Saturday, November 11, 2006

Is J. R. Perez An Elections Administrator or An Elections Manipulator?

We here in Fort Bend County, Texas, have an elections administrator, recently hired from Guadalupe County this past spring, named J. R. Perez. Hired by the Fort Bend County Elections commission, consisting of 4 Republicans and 1 Democrat. Perez has been consistent in showing bias and partisanship in the past election, as well as displaying actions that could only be characterized as grossly incompetent.

Take for example Perez’s amazing finding that simply dialing in the letters “Shelley” was enough to indicate voter intent to cast a write-in ballot for Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. As quoted from FortBendNow:
“If Sekula-Gibbs is the only registered write-in candidate, then a voter writing in ‘Shelley’ for the CD-22 race will be counted for Sekula-Gibbs, as “Shelley” will be one of the pre-programmed aliases.”
This notion was rapidly given the kibosh when Mike Malaise, Lampson's campaign manager, gave an indication that the Lampson campaign would take a dim view of this cavalier approach to registering a write-in vote:
“This is fair warning to anyone wanting to vote for a write-in candidate should try to fully write in that candidate’s name on Election Day. Misspellings are perfectly understandable, but there are many ‘Shelleys’ registered to vote in District 22, and they are all eligible to write their own name in for this seat. Simply writing ‘Shelley’, random letters, or a series of Morse Code dots and dashes will not cut it. Those votes will be challenged and ultimately will not count. We did not fight Tom DeLay’s unethical political maneuvering just to stand aside and watch his hand-picked successor game the system in the 11th hour.”
Eventually the instruction from the Sekula-Gibbs campaign was to fully spell her name.

Nice try J. R.

Perez is apparently baffled by the Texas Election Code. He allowed voting irregularities reported by the Lampson campaign poll watchers to go uncorrected. Frustration hits the Lampson campaign poll workers who, when seeing that no one was about to correct serious manipulations of voters at the polls, they themselves stepped in to tell the judges that they were breaking the law.

Perez said this about The Texas Election Code
“[It] is not as clear as I would hope it would be in terms of what is permissible when providing voters with instructions on how to use a computerized voting machine.”
Doesn’t matter JR. The code is clear enough whether the voter uses eSlate, a pencil and paper or a rock and a chisel.


§ 61.008. UNLAWFULLY INFLUENCING VOTER. (a) A person commits an offense if the person indicates to a voter in a polling place by word, sign, or gesture how the person desires the voter to vote or not vote.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986

§ 61.009. INSTRUCTING VOTER ON CASTING BALLOT. On the request of a voter, an election officer shall instruct the voter on the proper procedure for casting a ballot.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Emphasis is added. Your poll judges were offering instruction on who to vote for. The question “May I help you write in Shelley Sekula-Gibbs’ name?” is not equivocal. This was a Class B misdemeanor. Your poll judges were volunteering instructions to voters where none were requested. It happened over and over again all over the county.

Your poll judges allowed a candidate in the election to come within 100 feet of the polling site and for the purpose of electioneering. We all knew it was a purposeful violation of the law. This was not an inexperienced candidate. She knew she was violating the election code, but also knew of the tens of thousands of dollars of free publicity that would be hers if she did this.

And she’s not at risk of being charged with a Class C misdemeanor, by the way. DA Healey is looking into it the allegations and has taken depositions. He also has an invitation to a big party in Washington DC on Monday. Here we have someone being sworn in to uphold the US Constitution who flouts the law of the land by purposely disobeying a simple straightforward election law. You going John?

The foregoing was all about bias and manipulation. The following is either about that as well or about gross incompetence, take your pick.

Early on Election Day, voting machines at a heavily Democratic precinct, Precinct 4126 were “not working”. Voters on their way to work were being turned away. Now, JR, how long have you had these machines and how long have you had to prepare them so that they are in proper working order? Then on Election Day, the machines assigned to a Democratic majority precinct don’t work? Democratic voters are sent to work without having voted? Maybe they can vote on the way home. But oh, that’s right, the long lines.
How coincidental. How convenient. How callous.

This last item of interest is more about incompetence than political bias. Many parts of Fort Bend County had school bond issues. In several precincts, voters were presented issues for school districts whose boundaries did not encompass the voters' residences. For example, voters who showed up at their polling site, who lived within the LCISD district boundaries were offered a Katy ISD bond issue to vote on. While this might seem to be a minor issue, it turns out that while Lamar ISD’s bond issue passed, Katy ISD, which is one of the fastest growing school districts in southeast Texas, had their bond issue voted down (again).

Now, there is no one, except apparently, voters in Katy, who is against education. Why would someone purposely screw up the bond issue voting? It’s like picketing against Santa Claus. No, I think that this is not about political bias, it’s about competence.

How does J. R. Perez answer to this? It’s all on the voter.
“What we find hard to explain to the voter is that they must call any omissions to the judge before they cast the ballot. We can cancel that ballot and give them the correct ballot style. But after they cast the ballot, there is no going back, regardless of whose error it is.”
No, sorry J. R. It is not the responsibility of the voter to make sure that you have provided the proper ballot. That is your responsibility.

If J. R. Perez can’t do his job, and blames voters for his errors, then maybe the county should find someone who can. And while they are doing that, maybe they can find someone who doesn’t have political inclinations that lead to manipulation of voters and the vote.

No comments: