Friday, November 03, 2006

Tarrant County Democrats Interviewed on Ballot Decision

Shaun Rabb, of Fox News KDFW-TV, interviewed Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Art Brender and State Representative District 95 Marc Veasey on the recent court decision regarding mail-in ballots. Federal Judge T. John Ward ordered Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop enforcing a provision of the election code regarding mail-in ballots. The ruling allows workers assisting the elderly or disabled to help deliver those ballots to the post office.

To view the video, click here. The following is a partial transcript:

Brender: It's a victory for every voter who needs to vote absentee - people that are elderly, that can't get out, that are bedridden, that are disabled - because for many, many years, up until this law went into effect a couple of years ago, anybody could help them.....

Veasey: It basically suppressed that partciular tradition in the coummunity of neighbor watching out for neighbor. And that's what was so really significant about this ruling.....

Rabb: In an email statement, Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz writes: "The Office of the Attorney General will file an immediate appeal...the district court's decision is contrary to binding precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court, and we are highly confident upon appeal." Brender hopes the federal judge's ruling stands.

Brender: The Attorney General in the comments to Judge Ward said "Well, we would never prosecute anyone for just mailing somebody's ballot, handling it and putting it in the mailbox, that sort of thing." So that admission, I think, is an indication the law is overly broad.

Although a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will have enormous impact in the long term, the influence on this year's elections is largely decided. An article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reveals that mail-in ballots for Tarrant County were down compared with 2002.

Mail-in voting for the November general election has dropped 62 percent this year in Tarrant County, although early voting in person is up 8 percent in the county and across the state.

With early voting ending today, Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said he could not explain the sharp drop in mail-in ballots since the comparable election in 2002, but said mail-in ballot applications generated by the major political parties appear to be down significantly this year.

Statewide, mail-in ballots have dropped 26 percent, according to the secretary of state's Web site.

All of the thirteen people Greg Abbott has prosecuted for voter fraud under the 2003 law have been Democrats, and all but one has been Hispanic or African-American.

Amber Moon, spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party, predicted that the post-election analysis of the mail-in ballots will show that the decrease is mostly from Democratic strongholds.

Vote by mail in our communities have suffered more because our people have the attorney general's task force following them," Moon said.

A direct comparison to the 2002 election is difficult, with both sides agreeing that strategy may have influenced results. And it's difficult to determine how many of those choosing to forgo mail-in ballots chose to vote in person. However, in the end, it appears Republicans may have accomplished their goal - suppression of minority votes.

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