Posts by Direct Action Texas

Election Integrity Fact vs. Fiction

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Over three months after the end of the 86thLegislative Session, myths and deceptive talking points still fill the narrative on the fate of election integrity. The truth is that Texas elections remain highly vulnerable and that the vast majority of legislation aimed at combating fraud failed to make it through the legislature. 

Senate Bill 9

Senate Bill 9 (SB9) by Senator Bryan Hughes was the omnibus bill that was to carry many of the needed reforms to prevent and prosecute election fraud. It would have increased criminal penalties for election fraud as well as adding civil penalties. The bill increased restrictions on illegal assistance and added limitations on countywide polling. Election code language about poll watchers and signature verification committees would have been improved. Verification of election accuracy would have been enhanced with new criteria for automatic recounts and by implementing risk limiting audits. It closed loopholes in the registration process and eliminated barriers for interstate cross check. Finally, it would have required a paper trail for every cast ballot.

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Direct Action Texas Joins Conservative Leaders Calling for Special Session

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This week, Direct Action Texas joined a dozen conservative groups calling on Governor Greg Abbott to call a special session of the Texas legislature. Actual deficiencies in public policy went unaddressed during the 2019 session, the immediate negative impacts will compound as the interim continues.

Groups represented on the letter cover important policy areas including 2nd Amendment rights, tax relief, pro-life, and election integrity among others. All of the signers are invested in seeing the commonsense platform of the Lone Star Agenda accomplished, now.

The letter comes at a time when Texas Republicans appear especially rudderless.

Beginning in November 2018, there has been a brute force effort to have Texas Republicans abandon the conservative principals that have made Texas the most prosperous state in the nation.

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Hand-wringing Over Illegal Voting Conviction Part of Larger Agenda

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In the last 48 hours, multiple progressive websites have published articles defending illegal voting in Texas, specifically citing the case of convicted criminal Crystal Mason.

We’ll address the Mason case again shortly, first, let’s examine what might be precipitating the PR push.

In part, it’s timing as leftwing groups appeal the Mason conviction but it might also be needed to combat recent polling that shows 77% of Texas Democrats agree that ineligible voters should be prevented from voting.

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NBC Defends Illegal Voting

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In a recent NBC Nightly News segment, host Lester Holt bemoaned the case of a Texas woman who was convicted of knowingly voting illegally and sentenced to prison.

The woman in question, Crystal Mason, was initially tried and convicted of tax fraud. As a tax preparation professional, she was accused of manipulating her client’s earnings to inflate return amounts. For her participation in the scheme, she was sentenced to prison and probation.

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Stephanie Klick Can’t be Defended

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Alan Vera has come out and tried to defend Chairman of the House Elections Committee Stephanie Klick for killing the marquee election integrity bill of the legislative session. It was a fool’s errand.

Below is a point by point rebuttal of his article published in the Texas Scorecard.

1. Paper ballots have been and can still be counterfeited/corrupted.

Vera misrepresents what was being called for in SB9 by suggesting that the paper ballot backups being produced in new electronic/paper systems would be easily counterfeited. This is not the case. In fact, it is the electronic ballots that have been and can still be corrupted. Many voters have little faith in the machines that can change votes with a premature spin of the wheel or not clicking a touchscreen in the exact spot. Holding that paper ballot, verifying the choices before feeding it into the scanner, improves voter confidence in the system. Votes are physical, real and there’s an electronic count to compare.

2. Paper ballots are susceptible to loss and corruption.

With 100% electronic systems, recounts and exposure of potential fraud are nearly impossible. There are no ballots to recount. Recounts will be easier with electronic/paper systems being implemented. In fact, several recounts have occurred in counties using these systems and each has come back exactly to the published results.  As for the storage of the ballots, the same can be said for the storage of flash drives and electronic information. Texans want physical ballots that can be physically recounted.

3. Paper ballots can be easily altered.

Paper ballots produced through the electronic/paper systems cannot be altered. The voter makes their selections on an electronic device that then prints their choices. There is no chance for wayward marks or tampering. The voter sees and verifies his/her choices and then runs the paper through the optical scanner. The paper ballot is not hand-marked bubbles but printed names with a barcode. 

4. Electronic ballots should be the final authority. 

Paper ballots are a tangible record verified by the voter. An electronic record is not. Voters trust the actual ballot record, not the electronic report. If the actual ballot record is different from the electronic record, the election results should change. That is the point of a recount.

5. The unreliability of optical scanners.

First of all, we challenge the assertion of the error rates of optical scanners. However, the error rates of electronic devices make the case for paper ballot backups. The option for a hand count remains when there are paper ballot backups.

Voter turnout increases when voters are confident in the security of elections. An overwhelming majority of Texans want paper ballot backups. The good news for Texans is paper ballot backups are coming in spite of Vera’s efforts.

As was written in an Autopsy Report published to the Texas Scorecard, SB9 was more than paper ballot backups and it’s why Direct Action Texas supported the measure even when that provision was lacking from the bill.

Special Interest Vera opposed the measure in the Senate because of the paper ballot backup provision.
Vera going to bat for Klick does her another disservice by bringing up the delay once the bill was passed by the Senate. First, Klick could and should have had a companion bill to Hughes’s SB9. That bill could have had her lobby-appeasing removal of paper ballot backups. The gutting of SB9 was unnecessarily delayed until April.

Vera, is a self-described “election consultant” as such, his aims and ends should be accurately interpreted as advocating for clients. Undisclosed clients constitute a conflict when lobbying the legislature as Vera has.

Arguing against Vera on the topic of voting system adoption isn’t really a fair fight. Vera is currently lobbying for electronic systems only, a position that may change.

Such a shift at a later date will be noted and drive the final nail in Vera’s coffin of credibility.

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