Finally, we have hard proof that GOP Presidential Candidate and Sentient Pumpkin Donald Trump's allegations of a rigged election! Well, either that, or not every precinct volunteer in Fort Bend County knows the law and is unintentionally screwing up people's votes.
Those seem to be the possible explanations for the unfortunate story of Shreya Gulamali, who says a volunteer blocked her from going to the voting booth with her mother, who was born in India and whose first language is Gujarti. Gulamali planned on helping her mother interpret the ballot.
You'd think that, in such a diverse county, volunteers would be up-to-date on laws regarding who's allowed to assist voters — especially since it was a rather hot-button issue that a federal judge recently ruled on. As the Texas Tribune reported October 13, the federal Voting Rights Act states that "any voter who requires assistance because of visual impairments, disabilities, or literacy skills can be helped in casting a ballot by the person of their choice, as long as it's not their employer or a union leader."
It was only the second time that Gulamali's mother, Chetna Shukla, voted, after becoming a U.S. citizen in 1992. Gulamali says her mother was nervous about voting when they drove to their precinct on October 25 — as are we, sometimes, since those user-unfriendly spinny-wheel ballot torture devices were clearly designed by a sociopath.
"When we got to the front of the line, I told the volunteer... that I need to go in with my mother to translate and help her," Gulamali told the Houston Press via email. That's when the volunteer said she would assist Shukla; her daughter was not allowed in with her. So Gulamali held back and waited for the women to return.
"When my mother came out with [the volunteer], I asked 'Did she vote for her two people she wanted to?'" Gulamali said in her email. That's when the volunteer "told me she picked straight ticket democrat," even though, according to Gulamali, "My mother never selected any party, let alone a straight ticket."
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Gulamali says she only found out afterwards that she should have been allowed to assist her mother.
"If I had known that at the time, I would surely have stood up to the poll worker and insisted on speaking to someone else," Gulamali said in her email. "I regret not putting my foot down about helping my mother, but I had assumed the poll worker would pick whoever my mom wanted to vote for."
Fort Bend County Elections Administrator John Oldham told us last week that he took the allegation seriously and would investigate. He said that the poll worker in question has volunteered for a while and that he wasn't aware of any other complaints.
As for Shukla, she'll have to take the good with the bad. Yes, her vote did count. It was just the wrong one.