UPDATED: Dallas Election Administrator Says NO To Finding Fraud. Find it later.
UPDATE: The Dallas County Republican Party (DCRP) has sent a cease and desist demand letter to Russell Miller, Chairman of the Signature Verification Committee. In the letter, DCRP’s General Counsel, Elizabeth Alvarez, demands that Miller cease to violate numerous statutes in the Texas Election Code. One of which is Section 33.061 referring to unlawfully obstructing a poll watcher. For the full demand letter, click HERE.
Dallas County has become the hot bed for mail-in ballot fraud over the last couple years. Earlier this year Miguel Hernandez pled guilty to charges related to him illegally harvesting 766 mail-in ballots in a city council race.
A record breaking mid-term election is in full swing and once again mail-in ballots are at the center of Dallas County elections. Members of the ballot board and poll watchers have been told they cannot take notes and poll watchers are even being told by Dallas Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole (TPP) that they are not allowed in the signature verification room. Insanely, the Dallas District Attorney agrees. Evidently the DA’s office is unable to read basic election code.
Last year Governor Abbott signed SB5 into law. SB5 increases penalties for mail-in ballot fraud, but an over looked detail of the bill is that it also added potential liability to members of the signature verification board who approve fraudulent ballots. It is natural then that some in the county want to be more cautious and zealous when processing mail-in ballots.
Mail-in ballots go thru a process of verifying the signatures on the ballot envelope against that on the application for the ballot in order to verify its legitimacy. Members of the signature verification board are charged with upholding the election code. For example statute limits the number of times someone can be a witness (sign on behalf of) a voter. The only way members of the board can verify that is to keep a running list of names of witnesses.
When the Republican and Democrat committee members disagree on a signature, the Democrat board judge makes the final determination – always siding to accept the ballot. In these cases it is essential the dissenting board member keep notes should they be questioned about these ballots at a later date.
Yesterday morning a member of the signature verification board began keeping a list of witnesses, as did a poll watcher. The other board members found that to be a good idea and began doing so as well. After a few hours, it became obvious the number of voters with witnesses was high. TPP then proclaimed that keeping a list was too time consuming and hindering the board from doing their job so no more lists would be kept. The reality is that is not her call to make.
It only got worse from there. The presiding democrat signature verification board judge, Russell Miller, decided no one could take notes of any type. (It’s of note that Russell is also a full time employee of the county.) He went as far as forcibly confiscating their notes. When they offered to have the poll watcher take the notes instead of board members they were informed that was also not acceptable and if anyone takes notes they will be fired and escorted out of the building.
Dallas County Republican Party (DCRP) questioned TPP on their new policy. She informed DCRP that it is not signature verification’s job to catch or identify fraud, that the ballots can be reviewed after the election. While it is not their job to identify fraud, it is their job to verify signatures, only accept valid ballots, only accept ballots witnessed or assisted by people who are eligible to witness or assist, and it is their job to document issues that arise, if for no other reason than to cover themselves should they be questioned by law enforcement at a later date. This is a county known for criminal investigations into this very type of fraud.
Today members of the signature verification board and ballot board go into their jobs under threat that if they take notes of any irregularities they will be forcibly removed from the building. This is an affront to all citizens of Dallas County.
Election code 33.061 makes it a crime to obstruct a poll watcher. I hope all early voting clerks and poll watchers stand firm and assert their right to observe and take notes. If denied, call the police and report a crime in progress. TPP mut be held accountable.
This story is developing right now…stay tuned for more.