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Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Reading Guide To True The Vote, The Controversial Voter Fraud Watchdog

A Reading Guide To True The Vote, The Controversial Voter Fraud Watchdog

by Suevon Lee, ProPublica.

As Nov. 6 approaches, the efforts of True the Vote, a Texas anti-voter fraud group recently profiled by the New York Times, are gaining national attention.

Despite scant evidence of voter fraud, the group is laser-focused on weeding it out. It has pushed for voter-ID laws, voter roll purges and other controversial voting-related measures in a host of states. (Here is our guide to the voter ID controversy, where we note that evidence on both sides of the issue is lacking.)

True the Vote also has promised to deliver 1 million volunteer poll watchers on Election Day, though its resources appear to be quite modest.

Given its annual summits featuring conservative speakers and its hand in spurring voter integrity projects around the country, we thought we’d take a closer look at this activist group.

The basics

True the Vote is a grassroots initiative spun out of a Houston, Texas-based Tea Party organization called King Street Patriots. Its focus is on training volunteers to serve as poll watchers on Election Day and inspecting voter registration rolls for hints of inconsistency to flag to elections officials.

The group believes that citizen vigilance is necessary to protect elections from corruption and fraud.

Its leader, Catherine Engelbrecht, a former poll worker and suburban Texas mom, has repeatedly emphasized the group’s nonpartisanship. “This has absolutely nothing to do with race or creed or color or party or politics, it’s about principle,” Engelbrecht said earlier this year in an interview to NRA News, a channel of the National Rifle Association.

But many of the group’s tactics have come under fire for intimidating would-be voters and raising the specter of voter suppression. True the Vote has been backed mainly by Republican lawmakers and opposed by voting advocates that warn of minority disenfranchisement.

True the Vote did not respond to ProPublica’s request for comment about these allegations.

Last year, True the Vote and King Street Patriots jointly released a blueprint for legislation to change voter registration rules. The guide’s recommendations included requiring photo ID to vote, increasing penalties for forged or otherwise fraudulent voter registration applications, prohibiting same-day voter registration, allowing recording devices inside polling precincts and designating English as the “official language of Texas and the only language used on ballots.”

What about funding?

So far, there hasn’t been much. According to True the Vote’s tax forms, the group raised $65,000 in 2010 and $137,000 in 2011.

While much of the money has come from anonymous donors, the New York Times reported that True the Vote received a $35,000 donation in 2011 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a Wisconsin-based organization known to award grants to conservative groups.

According to the Times, True the Vote had to return the donation because it was given on the condition that the group’s application for tax-exempt status was approved by the IRS, which has not happened yet. We’ve asked True the Vote about this donation and it didn’t respond to a request for comment.

  • Sand_Cat

    I think you are being extremely kind to call these right-wing zealots an “anti-voter fraud’ organization.

    I think the real “Eureka moment” for the founder came when Obama won the election and she realized – like a lot of other Republicans – that she wanted to prevent his re-election by any means necessary.

  • Yes, it’s True the Vote!

    Passionate about saving us from corrupt voters like un-American L!berals, Sp!cs, N!@@ers, and Women-folk!

    Please..

    • bcarreiro

      talk about yourself there you ignorant sob………….you must be a brown noser cause your tongue is turning do-do brown.

      • bcarreiro

        I hope you are about 12yo otherwise I have never seen a more juvenile and inane response to a posting. If you are older than 12 grow up

        • bcarreiro

          did you actually look at comment i replied too?

    • sigrid28

      What I have noticed in Iowa are efforts to confuse voters via, first, misleading information sent out with registration cards, and second, confusing information sent out with absentee ballots.

      Third, I find it hard to get the state and national headquarters of the Obama grassroots organization–Organizing for Obama and the Barack Obama website–to take very effective action, or to tell me whether or not anything will be done to fix the problems. I think the ground game is doing many other things effectively.

      Maybe this means that lowly posters on these comment threads need to take on some of the responsibility ourselves and look carefully at every piece of writing and every procedure built in the election process this year in order to make sure votes really count. Here are two examples of problems I found in Iowa.

      New voter registration cards were issued for six counties here in Iowa, with a headline in bold at the top of the card: VOTER INFORMATION AND CHECK IN.
      When I called the local election office and asked whether to use my old registration card or my new one when I go to vote, I was told I didn’t need either. Then I asked, “Well, can I use it to check in at the Holiday Inn?” Joking aside, this confusing headline on the mailer with the new cards could keep people who think they need the card(s) from going to the polls (I’ve misplaced my card! I don’t have the right card!). Some would-be voters might think that once at the polls they could be asked for “Voter Identification,” an easy misreading of the term VOTER INFORMATION (which I think was intended by those in charge of designing the wording of text set above the new registration cards).

      Result of my complaint: An article will appear in the local (Republican) newspaper. Local Democratic Central Committee and Organizing for Obama (OFA) groups would inform workers and help dispel confusion. At a statewide level, they took my call and but acted as though could care less.

      I received my absentee ballot with prepaid-postage return envelope and a good instruction booklet. A confusing instruction sheet regarding mailing the ballot was also included. The gist of what it said is that if a person mails an absentee ballot so that it might arrive after November 5th, the ballot will only be counted if the envelope it comes in has a cancellation date marked on it by the post office. Problem: Prepaid postage envelopes often do not receive cancellation markings. Even if this occurs only in Iowa or only in our county, thousands of absentee ballots might NOT be counted because a seemingly benign state or county practice (sending ballots out to be returned in prepaid-postage envelopes) manages to disenfranchise voters due to a federal policy by the postal service.

      Result of my complaint: Locally, the Democratic Central Committee arranged for the post office that handles mail in our region of Iowa to put cancellation marks on all absentee ballots. The local OFA, couldn’t care less. The state OFA head didn’t return my phone call, so (I guess) couldn’t care less. (I’m starting to wonder which candidate they are working for.) I sent an email to the Barack Obama website and asked for a response. So far no answer.

      I came up with another answer to the absentee ballot problem myself: If you send in an absentee ballot any time in October or November, be sure to put a regular postage stamp on it, even if it could be sent by prepaid postage. Then the envelope HAS to be cancelled and, presumably, the vote can be counted.

      Next, I plan to call the National Voter Hotline (1-866-687-8683). This by way of telling you, make no mistake about it, voter disenfranchisement ain’t no joke.

  • The DOJ should instruct the election officials to inform the poll workers of their responsibility to ensure that intimidation of voters does not happen. In this day and age of cell phones I do not think that intimidation efforts will be as sucessfull as they have been in the past at the polls

    These shamefull voter ID laws and the purges however are a new and potentially very sucessfull discouragment to vote.

  • It has been proven time and after that the majority of voter fraud happens before the election is held or after the polling places close when ballots are being counted. So where was this true the vote group when in three different states at least voter fraud charges have been brought against people working for the Republican party. They seem to be working for the Republicans and not anyone else to me.

  • After reading the above regarding ” true vote” collaborated with the Koch brothers & the tea party, does anyone really believe that this will mean a honest vote? I read on another article that Romney owns one of the firms that are supposed to be sure that there will be no trickery. Does the American people want a President that is cheating from the start? You see, If they get away with unethical controlling millions of votes, over several years the 2% of our population can and will become a dictatorship. Sounds a little far out? Let me tell you what Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes dictatorship as:” a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or small clique”. Now you can’t tell us that when Republican Governors are bragging that they will fix their states with the votes to assure Romney’s win for the President’s office, isn’t the same as a clique. Going a little further down the road, enough Governors(if Republicans win) and all their money to brainwash people ,so they can do away with medicare & social security, if they do this, there will be no use to vote after that, they will have met the definition of dictatorship. What then, can’t vote if your over 70, or if your 20 you won’t be allowed to vote, instead of 18? You know, what if they decide to not want a certain people (which they don’t now) free or have equal rights, where could this end? Concentration camps? There is one thing to stop this from happening, and it’s called reversal. There’ other names , but this one is probably the safe one. I would like to know why think they know more than the President that created Social Security that got us out of the worst depression that man has ever known. THANKS TO ROOSEVELT .