Maybe something did change after all at last week’s House Elections Committee hearing. This post at Texas Politics, GOP leader wants General Abbott’s response to charges, has the testimony of a specialist in voter law, Gerald Hebert, who has long been a thorn in the side of the Texas GOP on voter law and redistricting. At issue is the fact that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has only prosecuted Democrats and minorities for voter fraud, NO Republicans. The Lone Star Project pointed this out a while back. But here’s what Hebert said:
Hebert complained to Berman’s committee last week that Abbott has prosecuted Texans “who appear to have done little more than mistakenly help senior citizens by delivering already completed and sealed ballots to the post office or an elections administrative office.”
Of 13 voter fraud-related indictments, virtually all are African Americans or Hispanic senior citizens, Hebert noted.
He told the committee: “What is especially troubling is that while Greg Abbott’s office has prosecuted minority seniors for simply mailing ballots, he has not prosecuted anyone on the other side of the aisle for what appear to be open and shut cases of real voter fraud.”
Hebert told the committee about alleged voter fraud in heavily Republican Highland Park involving the mishandling of over 100 ballots and a memo from local prosecutors calling on Abbott to investigate the 2005 complaint. He explained that the attorney general’s office handed off the complaint to the Texas secretary of state “for evaluation of as potential criminal prosecution.”
He called that “a stalling tactic” because it is the AG’s office that evaluates criminal prosecution.
Nothing has happened, according to Hebert.
In the post it only says that Rep. Leo Berman plans to ask Abbott about this and Abbott’s spokesman has no comment because they have not received a request from Berman asking about this. Hebert then went on to decimate the Texas GOP leadership’s sensationalist and pathetic claims of a voter fraud “epidemic” in Texas.
Hebert told Berman’s committee:
“One can only conclude that Greg Abbott is using the official resources of the State of Texas to relentlessly pursue and prosecute minorities and Democrats who may have unknowingly violated a narrow, flawed and controversial provision in Texas law. None of the 10 persons prosecuted have been charged with or admitted to defrauding a single voter.
“At the same time, Abbott’s office has failed to seek prosecution of a single Republican or any individual involved with Republican election activities, even after being provided clear evidence that Republican office holders and Republican election officials engaged in improper activities that may have 100 or more ballots.”
Hebert said, “There is a fraud being perpetrated on Texas voters, but it’s not what you think. It is being perpetrated on Texas votes [sic] by Attorney General Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and others who claim that voter fraud in Texas has reached epidemic proportions. Their false and unsubstantiated claims are the real fraud.”
So if Rep. Berman ever asks Abbott about this we may finally get him on the record about his partisan voter fraud prosecutions and that would be a change that came out of the hearing.
Here’s the AusChron’s coverage of last the hearing, Voter ID Bill Redux. Here’s an excerpt.
The star GOP witness was Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, who brought several boxes of files he said documented 381 “iron-clad” cases of voter fraud. “Fraud cases exist, period,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a debate for this body.”
“There are many types of fraud, aren’t there?” countered AnchÃa. “When you make the statement that there’s definitely voter fraud, it includes a pretty broad definition, right?” That was a theme that ran throughout the hearing â€“ over and over, when examples of fraud were raised, AnchÃa pointed out that most involved mail-in ballots â€“ a situation that a photo ID requirement would not ameliorate.
But Bettencourt did say he had found 24 examples of deceased voters who had a voting history after their deaths, covering a period from 1994 to 2000, and pointed to a Houston Chronicle story documenting 35 noncitizens who voted in the 2004 presidential elections. AnchÃa specifically challenged the latter number, saying his staff checked the names and found 23 were actually citizens.
The more that it becomes known that voter ID is a GOP ploy for partisan advantage and that it’s a solution in search of a problem, the better chance we will have of making sure this never becomes law.