The Fort Worth Way: Election Fraud is Taking Place and It Must be Stopped
Those who’ve spent any considerable time talking with Tarrant County’s political insiders will likely hear about “The Fort Worth Way.” They will tell you that’s how elections are won and lost in the city “where the west begins.” Everyone who is anyone in Fort Worth politics knows the game and how it’s played. Most of them have been playing it for years and – in some cases – decades. The simple truth is, “The Fort Worth Way” is election fraud. It runs as deep as the Trinity, and it’s just as dirty.
Elections in Fort Worth are powered by a massive machine that chooses winners and losers at every level of government from City Council to State Representative. The chosen few are elevated to power through a well-planned and well-executed system of election fraud that takes place far from any polling location.
How does Election Fraud Happen?
The fraud is done through a tactic called “ballot harvesting.” Ballot harvesting targets unknowing participants in the form of registered voters who are coerced to vote for a certain candidate, or who aren’t aware their ballot is being stolen and cast by mail. Many times, a harvested ballot is one that would not have otherwise been cast. These votes are the direct products of the harvesting operation. Harvesting can be done legally, but that is typically not the case.
A few years ago, an organization in Fort Worth went door-to-door collecting signatures for a petition drive. Under the guise of a fake group advocating “voting rights” they had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of citizens sign their names on iPads and tablets. Using an electronic pen, harvesting organizations use these digital signatures over and over again on other forms without the knowledge or permission of the voter.
Harvesters will also occasionally go door-to-door, collecting signed applications for ballots, but the vast majority simply pre-fill the applications and use the electronic signatures they already garnered from past elections. The harvester then sends the applications to the Elections Office each day in small groups on behalf of the voter. This is called batching. By using batching in a very calculated fashion, the harvester knows exactly when the applications were sent and – more importantly – when they’ll arrive in the voters’ mailboxes.
The Harvesters are usually members of the community and knock on the same doors each election, so they build personal relationships with voters their assigned area. They help the voter request a mail in ballot and mail it on behalf of the voter. Since they know when the ballot will arrive, they can take it right out of the mailbox and carry it to the voter’s door.
This is key because they then “assist” the voter with their vote, filling out their ballot for them with the “best” candidate. This is ethically wrong and fraudulent. Keep in mind that no one is allowed to “assist” voters who vote in person at the polls, unless it is the election judge assisting a voter who requests help.
An even more insidious tactic is being used, however, in the Fort Worth election-fraud playbook. Workers simply steal the ballot from the mailbox, take it back to a central location, and fill it out. The harvester then uses the electronic pen or forges the signature. This happens entirely without the voter realizing his ballot has been hijacked with candidates selected that benefit the harvester, or their financiers.
These harvesting operations target the vulnerable. They take advantage of the elderly, the disabled, low-income families, illiterate citizens, and members of the minority community.
Harvesters are chosen carefully—they are typically women who are like sisters, mothers, or grandmothers to their targets. They are women the voters will easily trust and invite into their homes. Harvesters are chosen to match the look and culture of their community. They are first or second generation Americans who speak fluent Spanish and are sent into Spanish speaking neighborhoods. They are African-American women, including well-known members of the largest local churches. They are elderly women with life-long involvement in their neighborhood.
Some of the harvesters actually believe they are helping their community. Many may not realize they are breaking the law. Others simply believe that the ends justify the means. Regardless of their motives, they are stealing the votes and the voices of the most disadvantaged among us.
The fraud-machine does not care about the community. It is driven by power and greed. It’s unethical, immoral, illegal and fraudulent. It’s the “Fort Worth Way.”
How do we stop it?
There is no silver bullet. It starts with Election Reform.
The Texas Election Code has a soft bark, and no bite. The line between legal and illegal is blurry and the penalties rarely amount to anything more than a simple misdemeanor.
The real problem is that no one appears to be watching. Fort Worth voter-fraud continues unabated election cycle after election cycle. Elections Administrator, Frank Phillips, stated at the August meeting of the Election Committee:
“What the [election] code doesn’t make us is the police. The code says, if somebody [violates the law] we accept that [application], and we process it.”
In other words, even if they suspect the law has been broken on the ballot by mail application, they still send the ballot, which goes right into the hands of the criminal harvester. In fact, Tarrant County knowingly accepted electronic signatures because the Election Code did not specifically have a provision against it.
If the Elections Administrator is not responsible for properly administering the integrity of the election, who is? The answer right now, is no one. The system is broken.
The Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Legislature, and County Elections administrators are not on the same page. This must be fixed and the best place to turn is to the Legislature since they are responsible for what is, and is not, in the current code. Legislators must make election reform a top priority. If we can’t trust the integrity of our own elections, how can we trust that our voices are being heard? Even worse, if voters believe the game is rigged, they will stop participating.
Perhaps that’s why local elections in Texas have such dismal turnout?
You can get involved through efforts that Direct Action Texas and other responsible political reform groups are making to change the Texas Election Code to help prevent voter fraud in Fort Worth and across Texas.
Join our email list to find out more as we put a stop to this illegal and detrimental practice by reforming the law to ensure honest, ethical, and transparent elections that all people across the political spectrum deserve.