Travis County Republicans Target Minority Precincts for Voter Suppression

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It's happening, even here in Travis County. The Travis County Democratic Party released the following statement today challenging the Republicans to stop their program of minority voter suppression:  

Travis County Democratic Party Chair Andy Brown today challenged the Travis County Republican Party (TCRP) to retract and withdraw its announced policy of targeting African-American and Hispanic voting precincts in an election-day poll watcher program.

“For Republicans to target minority voting precincts with possibly intimidating tactics in this election cycle is exactly the wrong thing to do,” Brown said. “Reports from across Texas and the nation show that there are far too many attempts to disrupt voting.  It's unfortunate if the Travis County Republicans are stooping to such tactics.  I serve notice right now that Democrats in Travis County will do everything possible to protect the rights of all voters in Travis County.”

Widespread reports have surfaced of voter intimidation and election procedure irregularities in Harris County. More recently problems have surfaced in Williamson County, too.

Mr. Brown said he is in the process of contacting the Department of Justice to request the assignment of monitors in Travis County as well.

“This targeting of minority voters has to stop,” Mr. Brown declared.  “Voters must have the right to vote without targeting and without intimidation.  This is a matter of basic fairness. This is what America stands for.  We intend to take all possible action to protect all of the voters of Travis County.”

TCDP sent two volunteers to the Republican poll workers' training, during which time the Republican chair specifically emphasized concerns of “voter fraud” at majority-minority voting precincts in East Austin.

Reports continue to surface of Republicans doing the same thing in urban counties around Texas. Harris and McLellan Counties have already seen efforts to intimidate minority voters and prevent them from casting their ballots.

TCDP Chairman Andy Brown will be holding a press conference today at noon at the County Courthouse on the South Steps, where he will be joined by Nelson Linder, Austin NAACP President, and Jim Harrington, Travis County Civil Rights Project Director. Affidavits from the volunteers who attended the Republicans' training will be available.

This kind of activity has no place in our democratic process. The best way to fight back is to take it to the voters, remind them what's really at stake in this election, and get them out to VOTE.

[Disclosure: I am the TCDP Coordinated Campaign manager. That's why I haven't had time to blog in the past few months. But you probably know that, since you've probably been in my office helping get Democrats elected up and down the ballot. And if you haven't, TODAY is a great day to start. 605 W. 13th. Just walk in. We need you.]

About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She has previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Austin. In addition to serving as the president of Austin Young Democrats, she is also UCONN's #1 fan in Texas.

7 Comments

  1. Speaking of intimidation…
    I have attended Travis County GOP Poll Watcher training and the only reason minority precincts are mentioned is because they are areas where language issues and social pressure are more likely to create problems.  Poll watchers are trained to protect voters and look out for their interests, certainly not to intimidate.

    This action by the TCDP seems very much like an effort to intimidate Republican poll watchers and to create an expectation among voters that intimidation will take place, based upon no evidence whatsoever.  This is the same technique they are using to intimidate non-partisan election observers in Houston.

    What's very clear here is that Democrats find open elections and scrutiny of a process which they largely control through the Democrats working in the County Clerk's office, to be threatening to their interests.  If they don't have something to hide, why are they going after people who are trying to keep elections honest?

    • Thanks
      Thanks for creating an account today “The Liberator.” Were you assigned to watch Burnt Orange Report?

      You can say what you want but in addition to numerous other instances, Phillip's post above regarding Texas Republicans informing Latinos that early voting started today kind of says it all. You've got a long way to go to convince me that Travis County Republicans are working to protect minority voters.  

      • Basic logic
        It's not the job of the GOP to inform Latinos when to vote.  The fact that the Perry campaign was ridiculously disorganized and got their mailer to Latinos out very late did not withhold voting information from them, it just wasted a lot of that campaign's money or effort.

        Unless, of course, you assume that all Latinos don't know when to vote until the Republican Party tells them to, which seems very unlikely.

    • Kernan Hornburg on

      The “Anonymous” Liberator
      This comment would be entertaining except the “anonymous” writer seems serious. Apparently he's not aware of, or ignoring incidents of voter suppression at early polling locations and on Election Day in 2008 that were unreported by the local mainstream media, but I and others took notice.

      In 2008 there were young well dressed white male men attempting to suppress the Democratic vote in Travis County, however it was ineffective and brought police and activists attention. To utilize poll watchers would be much more effective. It seems what these TCDP volunteers were taught is very different from what “anonymous” states.

      To hide behind the cloak of anonymity is cowardly and until you step out of the shadows I'll take your post for what it is…

      • Kenan Hornburg? Sounds made up to me…
        Take my post for one from someone who is informed.  I was a judge in 2008.  I saw not one mythical “young well dressed white male men” hanging around the polls suppressing anything.  Had such a thing happened it also would have been reported in the media and it certainly was not.  It's just another fevered fiction you lefties make up to excuse your actions.

        Now I have seen voter intimidation and suppression.  Every case I've seen has involved members of minority groups pressuring other members of their groups into not voting Republican.

  2. enough
    i've officially had enough of trolls.

    i've avoided posting for months because they are running wild on BOR and hijacking every thread.

    man up and use your real name, “liberator”.

  3. Voter “Suppression”
    Sending pollwatchers in itself is not “voter suppression”.  With all of the accusations of voter suppression and dirty tricks nationally, it doesn't sound like a bad idea for both sides to be watching.  If the pollwatchers are intimidating voters (e.g. swinging billy clubs in front of the voting area, etc.), that is voter suppression and should be reported and stopped.

    Before you begin the attacks, I believe citizens who are eligible to vote should exercise their right to vote for the candidate of their choice.  If an individual or group tries to prevent that, they should be removed from the polling place.  Tricks and voter suppression happen from both sides and it should all be prevented.

    Ms. Haenschen, did you mean McClennan County?

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