No one seems to want to play nice at the voting polls this year. And new names and organizations keep getting involved in the already over-crowded, controversial fray.
King Street Patriots/The Tea Party. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. The Texas Democratic Party. The Texas Republican Party. Harris County Democratic Party. The Attorney General's office. Public Citizen. League of Women Voters of Texas. Mary Kay Greene. Elvis. Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird.
With daily developments -- some true, some highly questionable -- Hair Balls can't help but keep you up to date.
On Monday afternoon, representatives from Public Citizen and the League of Women Voters called a press conference outside of the Moody Park Community Center, wanting to discuss and diffuse some of the rumors and misinformation swirling around the issue of voter intimidation and poll watchers. Several video crews and Hair Balls turned out to see what was what.
Essentially, Anita Privett of LWV read a press release, encouraging voters who may be apprehensive about coming to the polls to partake in their civic duty with pride and confidence. She also presented key points from the Texas Election Code about what a poll watcher can and cannot do, including not conversing with voters (which they've done), only communicating with an election judge (which they've not done) and that poll watchers "may not be present at the voting station when a voter is preparing the voter's ballot or is being assisted by a person of the voter's choice." Remember the female pole watcher who claimed, "I have the right to stand wherever I want!"? Well, she was wrong. So much for all that training "True the Vote" supposedly invested in its volunteer pole watchers.
In the case of Blanca Flores, who showed up to vote at Houston Community College last Thursday (i.e. not one of the 14 Monday incidents) with her 74-year-old mother (who was in a wheelchair) and paralyzed daughter (who was in a power-chair), poll watchers decided it was necessary to get involved beyond what the Texas Election Code deems appropriate.
While Flores' mother was approaching the voting booth, a man who identified himself as a poll watcher directed Flores to "close[your] mouth" while she was figuring out how best to help her mother to the booth. Then in the process of her mother voting, three poll watchers hovered behind her and then raised up on their toes to look into the booth. Flores' mother turned around at one point and asked her daughter, "what are they doing?"
Another account of an incident came from Barbara Ashley, who had showed up at the Moody Park polling place on Monday, around lunchtime. She entered the foyer in order to read the sample ballot, she heard disruption in the doorway to the voting computers.
A pair of "anglo women, about 60 years old, a blonde and a brunette" were blocking the doorway and the brunette was "arguing with the judge, loudly." The judge had confronted the women, saying he had received word of complaints about the pair having "disrupted the process." She also witnessed the blonde woman paging through the voter information paperwork.
Ashley decided to leave following the incident, because "I've never seen such disruption [at a voting place] in my life; I was shocked and appalled, I could not concentrate." She said she did return later in the afternoon, and when she did, the same disruptive poll voters were still present and "right on top of the poll workers ... and right in the face of the voters, where voters signed in their personal information."
The press conference was brought to an abrupt end when the Republican election judge at the Moody Park location came out and claimed "there are no media camera allowed within 100 feet of the polling place!" Not so, but the group did disperse, but not before a few cameras decided to flex their media freedoms and entered the building to film the outside of the polls.
In a follow-up conversation with Ashley, while she was speaking with Mary Kay Green -- who is running for judge of the 247th family district court and was outside the Moody Park voting location handing out flyers -- she indicated that one of the poll watchers had associated herself with the King Street Patriots.
In a bit of news that should excite Tea Party'rs, Republicans or anyone looking for something to fingerpoint about following the flurry of negativity flailing toward the Right, reports have come out that Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has been involved in some unsavory behavior of herself, electioneering near polling places. The part that makes us wary of buying into the news is that the accusations come from True the Vote. And they came about eight days after they supposedly occurred. Below is a video one anonymous individual posted to YouTube of Jackson Lee's supposed "electioneering."
Hair Balls didn't notice anything aggressive about Jackson Lee, other than the color of that top.
Stay tuned, because this issue is only going to get more exciting and twisted as the November 2 election date grows closer.