Double Voting Investigation in Houston

Harris County (Houston, TX) Clerk Beverly Kaufman today turned over 1,167 names of voters suspected of voting in more than one primary to the District Attorney.

Some of them, she says, voted in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. Others, she says, voted twice in the same primary.

“I’m convinced that there are some instances where people had strong feeling on both sides of the aisle where they wanted to vote for a candidate on both ballots thinking they wouldn’t get caught,” Kaufman said.

The DA will investigate. Was it confusion or voter fraud?

“Those people who actually voted in the Republican primary and then tried to mess with Democratic primary committed crimes, and they should be prosecuted,” said Gerry Birnberg, who is the Harris County Democratic Chair.

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    Here's how... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Key on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 01:04:53 AM EST
    If you vote through early voting, your name is supposed to appear on a list that is sent to your local precinct for election day.  At the start of the election day, the judges at the precinct are supposed to go through the sign in sheets and mark off every person who voted early.

    This did not happen in all cases.  In fact, I worked my local caucus in the evening (for Clinton), and was voted secretary for my precinct.

    As people signed in, they needed to show proof that they had voted in the election (a requirement for participating in the caucus).  If they did not have proof, we made a mark next to their name.

    After everyone signed in, we went through the voter sign in sheets to check if people who said they voted, in fact had signed the voter rolls.  A few people had not signed the rolls, and there was no mark next to their name showing an early vote.

    It was then that we learned that people who voted early never got marked off on the election day voting rolls.

    (Side note - For the caucus, we ended up looking on early voting list for each person we could not find on the election day sign-in sheet, and in each case we found their names on the early voting list but no mark in the election day roll that they had early voted.)

    SO..... To sum it all up, if someone voted early, there's a good chance the record of this fact never got noticed by a local precinct judge, so on election day the person could go and sign in at their precinct and cast a second vote.

    This is where the fraud probably would have occurred, at least where someone voted twice in the same party primary.

    Okay.... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Fabian on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 05:56:51 AM EST
    Ohio has early voting.  I should know, since I got at least two robocalls informing me of the process.  

    I never realized it could potentially allow people to vote twice.  Time to close that loophole up!

    (I have to wonder if people double voted intentionally or not.)

    Thanks for the info.


    I think it's even easier than that. (none / 0) (#21)
    by corn on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 11:35:35 AM EST
    Caucus (or Precinct Convention as they're called in Tx) aside, voting in both the Repub and Dem primaries would be as simple as lining up twice.  They check that you're on the voter roles, but they don't verify that you haven't already voted in the other party's primary.  This would only be verified if later the books were compared.

    I voted early in Florida (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by kc on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 07:03:08 AM EST
    --not that we count!!!

    but, this time the workers had computer screens and after we showed ID-drivers license, they checked something on the screen, then asked if we wanted a Dem. or rep. ballot. So, I felt pretty good about it.  I think that the caucus system would be much easier to fool with.

    Florida voter also (none / 0) (#18)
    by Step Beyond on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 09:07:52 AM EST
    Why would they be asking which ballot you wanted when you can only have the Repub ballot if you were a registered Repub and can only have the Dem ballot if you were a registered Dem?

    Disgraceful that it got this far (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Lora on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 03:06:54 PM EST
    It's a sorry state of affairs when voters are allowed to vote twice.  What were the election workers thinking?  Where are the checks and balances?

    Ohhh.  I forgot.

    I wonder how many (none / 0) (#1)
    by waldenpond on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 11:54:41 PM EST
    more regions will pop up.  Aren't they just now starting on their next stage which involves the verification process?  Is this where the campaigns are supposes to do their research and present any protests?  Texas is confusing.  I know that Clinton wanted to wait on the caucus process until this was done, but doing the checking comes later in the process?  The whole process is yet another situation of circular logic.

    double voting (none / 0) (#2)
    by NO2WONDERBOY on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 11:59:20 PM EST
    I'm glad this is being investigated because as one who participated in the caucus, can attest to the fact that many of Senator Clinton's voters were forcibly denied entrance to the Caucus by Obama elements. This was reported since the same day, but had not heard anything about this until now. I hope these people are uncovered and dealt with to the full extent of the law, AND MAKE THEIR VOTES NULL.

    Did you (none / 0) (#3)
    by waldenpond on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:03:50 AM EST
    report what you observed?  Who do you report this activity to?

    I read that, after the Texas (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:17:01 AM EST
    primary and same day caucuses, the Clinton campaign was asking people to report to them complaints about voter suppression, already filled out caucus sign in sheets, improper credentials, etc.

    I have a bad feeling about this (none / 0) (#4)
    by blogtopus on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:16:07 AM EST
    Have there been previous dem primaries where one candidate's supporters were so thuggish and oblivious to the basic tenets of democracy?

    I don't want to invoke Godwin's Law, but man this 'rise from nowhere to the most powerful person in the world, based on enticing rhetoric and raised on the shoulders of thugs' really makes me nervous.

    Do these people really want a Uniter? Or just some guy who's cool?

    Will the headline tomorrow read: (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:18:05 AM EST
    Clinton campaign tries to disenfranchise Texas voters?

    this will set the Obots into high gear (none / 0) (#11)
    by thereyougo on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:50:45 AM EST
    Hillary was calling for attorneys to Texas and oversee the delegate count.

    Someone said she got 2000 complaints about those caucauses.

    Bet Kos won't write about this. Will he say, get over it?


    TPM does it (none / 0) (#15)
    by ding7777 on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 07:18:36 AM EST
    by association

    Elections are becoming for lawyers what tax season is for accountants.

    The Clinton campaign is urging its lawyer supporters to head to Texas this weekend, with a goal of having at least one lawyer present to monitor each county and state Senate convention site.

    On the GOP side, TPMmuckraker has learned, vote-suppression guru Hans von Spakovsky, formerly of the U.S. Justice Department, will be giving a talk next week to the L.A. chapter of the Federalist Society titled "Litigating Elections: the Campaign Process in 2008."

    It is somewhat comforting (none / 0) (#8)
    by felizarte on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:29:30 AM EST
    to know that these things are coming out now before it is absolutely too late.  I have a faith that Divine Providence will continue to shed grace on this great country and that the leader needed for these times will prevail. And I believe that that leader is Hillary Clinton.  It is significant to me that the first real problem Sen. Obama has had is the information about his pastor of twenty years and his utterances invoking God in some very hurtful statements.

    Personally I am offended to hear a religious leader say, "God damn America!"  I am included in "the America" and he does not even know me.  So with millions of other Americans who are not remotely implicated in the things he has decried.


    Unfortunately (none / 0) (#10)
    by felizarte on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:38:25 AM EST
    The election laws and procedures are based mainly on the "honor system" of voters.  I have served as an election precinct inspector in several California elections and I can see that there are opportunities for fraud if there are enough people determined to perpetrate it.  In small neighborhoods where voters basically know one another, it is not easy to hide this kind of irregularity.  But I can see in larger cities with more voters per precinct that the system can be overwhelmed.

    Thje experiences in Florida and Ohio should have highlighted this matter by now.  It will be a real tragedy if this democratic process is successfully subverted.


    Caucuses are the problem (none / 0) (#26)
    by splashy on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:50:30 PM EST
    No privacy, intimidation is too easy, and those that can't take the time are cut out.

    Primaries that run for several days to a week, all day long, with privacy, are far more democratic to all.


    Texas and LBJ ring a bell (none / 0) (#16)
    by ding7777 on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 07:21:43 AM EST
    Bush and McCain in SC in 2000



    How could you get away with that? (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:22:37 AM EST
    Don't these people have a specific page to sign in on?

    OH is very clear. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Fabian on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:36:30 AM EST
    It's Democrat, Republican and Issues Only, one day only.

    OH has a semi-open primary(IIRC), so you can change parties at the polling place - but there's no way you can get a ballot for more than one ticket.


    obviously confusion (none / 0) (#17)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 07:40:23 AM EST

    Was it confusion or voter fraud?

    Everyone knows that vote fraud is just a Republican talking point so they can disenfranchise people registered at non-existent addresses.

    This is a really (none / 0) (#19)
    by eric on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 09:32:41 AM EST
    stupid way to pick up a felony.  Voting twice because you were confused?  Even if I were to believe that someone could be this confused, why wouldn't the confused person simply ask for help rather than commit a felony?  The stakes are pretty high.

    Heh... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kayla on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 10:37:09 AM EST
    I thought voting in both primaries was allowed.  Someone on MSNBC was calling it the Texas Two Step and said that this is the only state that allows voting twice for two different parties.  I could have heard that wrong, so I can see how many were confused by the rules.  Or misinformed or something.

    Uploading a few grains of salt (none / 0) (#23)
    by TedMR on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 05:30:42 PM EST
    County government in Harris County (AKA Houston) is, for the moment at least, controlled by Republicans of a fairly right-wing bent - right-wing even by Texas standards. In particular, Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, who is also the county voter registrar, has led the Republican campaign to disenfranchise Texas voters using hyperbolic and largely fictitious stories about "illegal" voting. I suggest being careful before giving credence to suggestions of voting irregularity that come from Harris County, PARTICULARLY when the source is a Republican county official.

    There can be little doubt that in a place with over 3.8 million people and almost 2 million registered voters - large numbers of whom speak primarily a language other than English, you'll have some trouble. That is especially so when Democratic primary and precinct convention turnout is so high. (And what a welcome dilemma that is!) The linked news report refers to 1,147 POSSIBLE problem voters. Over 410,000 people voted in Harris County's Democratic primary. So PERHAPS three-tenths of one percent were not supposed to be doing so. (Previous estimates of "illegal voters" in Harris County have tended to shift and evaporate like reports of "known Communists" in the State Department.)

    Don't mistake isolated and relatively uncommon problems for a systemic issue. While news reports have done a great job of confusing folks, including many here in Texas, our mixed primary and convention system has worked quite well for a long time both to identify candidates supported by Democrats and to get many of those Democratic voters involved actively in winning elections. Twenty years ago, it caught this cynical so-and-so and I'm still in. I'll be a Clinton delegate at my county convention this Saturday. In the fall, I'll be working my behind off to elect our presidential candidate - whoever that is - and to send some good folks to Congress, the statehouse, and the county courthouse.

    Finally, I reject, and implore all Democrats to reject, the term "voter fraud." The very real problem of who votes in the United States is NOT one of ballots cast by a few unorganized individuals who shouldn't be. It is that official and quasi-official means have been employed by our own national, state, and local governments to keep from participating voters who are clearly eligible to do so. The worst of that activity is, thanks to a lot of hard work and not a small amount of blood, behind us. If we are vigilant, those will remain bitter memories - still living memories for plenty of Americans. Still, we continue to endure more limited attempts at disenfranchisement, of which Republican "voter integrity" campaigns are very much a part. The relative size of "illegal voting," even at the highest barely credible estimates, and the fact that it is an individual, as opposed to state, activity should make clear that it is a problem of low priority. I will be pleased to work at ensuring that no one votes who doesn't have a right to do so on the day after everyone who does have that right is able to exercise it.

    I like your priorities (5.00 / 0) (#24)
    by Lora on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 08:03:46 PM EST
    I suggest being careful before giving credence to suggestions of voting irregularity that come from Harris County, PARTICULARLY when the source is a Republican county official.

    Good point.  I'm sure Texas has much bigger issues of election integrity to worry about than a very small percentage of people voting who possibly shouldn't be voting.

    If this is a Republican smoke screen, then it needs to be exposed as such.

    In the fall, I'll be working my behind off to elect our presidential candidate - whoever that is - and to send some good folks to Congress, the statehouse, and the county courthouse.

    Good luck.  I hope you also work for an election and vote count that you can be confident is accurate and honest, to help you realize your goal.


    oddly, in va (none / 0) (#25)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 04:05:40 AM EST
    each voter is assigned a specific location to vote. you register, receive a card identifying that location and go vote. when you enter, the poll officials check your name off the list, after checking ID. at that point, you then select a ballot for either the republican or democratic primary, you can't get both.

    there is no early voting in va, so that isn't an issue. simple as this sounds, it seems to work pretty well, assuming everyone does their job. i've never heard even a rumor of voter fraud in the 34 years i've been voting.