Texas Blueprint for Stolen Election 2000

The Texas Blueprint for the Stolen Election
By Charles Knutson,
Democrats.com Contributing Writer
http://democrats.com/blueprint
Synopsis

Shortly after the 2000 Election, Greg Palast reported on the Florida Voter Purge. Nearly 60,000 names were on the original lists, and more than a thousand predominantly minority and Democratic voters were wrongly removed from the rolls.

The original lists included 8,000 names from Texas of individuals who were wrongly identified as having felony convictions. In May 2001, at the DNC Voting Rights Institute hearings in Florida, it was reported that a similar voter purge had been attempted in Texas, in 1982. A second part of the 1982 Texas scheme included armed law enforcement officials and intimidating signs at minority precincts.

A report by Rachel Berry includes a detailed history of the GOP use of this intimidation scheme: The Ballot Security Task Force (BSTF). It was used in the 1981 New Jersey Governors Race. In 1982, as part of a consent decree settlement of a lawsuit (DNC vs RNC) the RNC agreed to never do it again. But the scheme was used again, in Texas -- the very same year.

How does this tie into the Florida False Felon Voter Purge of 2000? The BSTF is a recurring strategy, but the felon purge has appeared only twice -- in Texas, 1982 -- and in Florida, 1998-2000. Both events have one thing in common -- Karl Rove.

The Florida Purge began with a little noticed paragraph (section 4) inserted into Florida election law (98.0975) -- and grew into a massive attempt to purge minority voters from the rolls. In the end, more than a thousand names were wrongly removed. (See Addendum)

And the rest, as they say -- is history . . .

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The Texas Blueprint for the Stolen Election

In the aftermath of the deadlocked Florida Election, many reports surfaced of minority voters being denied the right to vote. The list is endless: polling places closing early; police roadblocks that stopped voters driving to the polls; faulty voting machines; confusing ballots and contradictory instructions; poll workers tampering with ballots (with hundreds of eyewitness affidavits); overseas military ballots mailed after the election; and many other offenses, both great and small. (For a long but only partial list of criminal acts by the GOP in stealing the 2000 election, visit http://democrats.com/floridagate

But the most egregious of all was the deliberate and systematic attempt to purge nearly 60,000 voters from the rolls with false accusations of felony convictions. First reported by Greg Palast in Salon and the Nation, the Florida Division of Elections Voter Purge relied on felons lists compiled by an independent subcontractor, DBT/ChoicePoint. The original lists were grossly inaccurate, with nearly 60,000 names that were improperly included. While many county officials rejected the DoE lists, later reports found more than 1,000 voters whose registration was illegally purged by the State of Florida -- a number that exceeds George W Bush's 537-vote margin of victory.

The disfranchisement operation began in 1998 under Katherine Harris's predecessor as secretary of state, Sandra Mortham. Mortham was a Republican star, designated by Jeb Bush as his lieutenant governor running mate for his second run for governor. Six months prior to the gubernatorial contest, the Florida legislature passed a "reform" law to eliminate registration of ineligible voters: those who had moved, those who had died and felons without voting rights. The legislation was promoted as a good-government response to the fraud-tainted Miami mayoral race of 1997.

But from the beginning, the law and its implementation emitted a partisan fragrance. Passed by the Republican legislature's majority, the new code included an extraordinary provision to turn over the initial creation of "scrub" lists to a private firm. No other state, either before or since, has privatized this key step in the elimination of citizens' civil rights.

In November 1998 the Republican-controlled office of the secretary of state handed the task to the single bidder, Database Technologies, now the DBT Online unit of ChoicePoint Inc. of Atlanta, into which it merged last year... In May 2000, using a list provided by DBT, Harris's office ordered counties to purge 8,000 Florida voters who had committed felonies in Texas. In fact, none of the group were charged with anything more than misdemeanors, a mistake caught but never fully reversed. ChoicePoint DBT and Harris then sent out "corrected" lists, including the names of 437 voters who indeed had committed felonies in Texas. But this list too was in error, since a Texas law enacted in 1997 permits felons to vote after doing their time. In this case there was no attempt at all to correct the error. [1]

My immediate response to Palast's expose was to conclude that this was a Karl Rove Dirty Trick. Throughout his career as a political operative [2], he has acquired a reputation as someone willing to use every trick in the book to defeat his opponents, including going up to -- and on occasion, crossing -- the line that separates the unseemly from the illegal. In this case, the Felon Purge crossed over to the illegal side of the line. It was criminal; it was planned; and it was therefore a criminal conspiracy.

In May 2001, Robert Slagle testified at the DNC Voting Rights Institute hearings in Florida. He is former chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, a practicing attorney, a member of the DNC, and serves on the DNC Southern Regional Voting Rights Group.

An email newsletter reported on his testimony at the VRI Hearings: "Finally, Robert Slagle, from Texas no less, asked the panel about the felons list. ... Slagle said they had a felon's list in Texas in 1982 that was just as flawed. ..." [3]

In a telephone interview on the Texas and Florida felon purges, Mr. Slagle said he was unaware of how the names of 8,000 Texans came to be falsely identified as felons on the DBT/Choicepoint list.

But he did have some very interesting information on the 1982 Texas scandal.

While he was the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, a scheme to disenfranchise minority voters was discovered and foiled. In 1982, lists were provided to local Texas election officials that made false accusations of felony convictions against voters who had no criminal records. Those accused included public officials, whose reputations and careers would have been ruined. This led to successful lawsuits for slander against those who provided the false information.

Another part of the scheme was posting law enforcement officers (with handguns) at minority voter precincts, along with signs listing the penalties for voting illegally.

In response to this scandal, the Texas Legislature passed a number of laws to prevent future abuses. Mr. Slagle said that as a result of these reforms, there have been no reports of anyone in Texas being denied their right to vote since that time.

He also said that in Texas, no public employee would dare to make a false accusation of a felony conviction, as a result of the legal actions taken after the 1982 scandals. He suggested that the ChoicePoint denials were probably an attempt to cover up their own responsibility in the creation of the Texas False Felons List.

When pressed as to whether the Texas Executive Branch might have been involved in creating these lists for Florida in 2000, Slagle admitted that it was possible, considering the crew that worked for Bush.

If the failed 1982 Texas scheme was the Blueprint for the Florida Felon purge, then it stands to reason that the Bush Campaign would be obliged to make sure the State of Texas would contribute its share of names towards the effort to disenfranchise Florida voters.

In researching the 1982 Texas scandal, no web links were found that dealt with this event. However, there were many other reports on attempts to disenfranchise minority voters. One of these was from the Race and Ethnic Ancestry Law (REAL) Journal. In the article, "Democratic National Committee v. Edward J. Rollins: Politics as Usual or Unusual Politics" Rachel Berry detailed the case that was sparked by Ed Rollins' 1993 comments on "walking around money" in New Jersey.

It was this article that brought the context of the 1982 Texas Scandal into focus.

According to Rachel Berry, the posting of armed guards and intimidating signs is a common GOP strategy know as the "Ballot Security Task Force" (BSTF). [4] The intimidating tactics of the BSTF are illegal, and as part of a 1982 settlement of a 1981 lawsuit (DNC vs RNC) the RNC promised to never do it again.

Of course, the GOP didn't miss a beat. They did it again, that very same year, in Texas -- along with the attempt to purge minority voters with false accusations of felony convictions. According to Bob Slagle, the intended beneficiary of this scheme was the re-election campaign of Texas Governor Bill Clements.

While the BSTF has been widely used by the GOP, the felon purge strategy has appeared twice: Texas, in 1982; and Florida, 1998-2000. The only thing these events have in common are two Governors of Texas -- both of whom employed Karl Rove. [5]

The Florida Felon List Voter Purge did not materialize out of thin air. Tom Feeney, Speaker of the Florida House and Jeb Bush's running mate in 1994, added the enabling language to the legislation at the last moment, with no public debate.

(4) Upon receiving the list from the division, the supervisor must attempt to verify the information provided. If the supervisor does not determine that the information provided by the division is incorrect, the supervisor must remove from the registration books by the next subsequent election the name of any person who is deceased, convicted of a felony, or adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting." (Florida Statute 98.0975 Central voter file; periodic list maintenance.)

During the development of the Felons List, the Florida Division of Elections went to great lengths to include as many false positives as possible, and even deceived the US Department of Justice as to what they were doing. [6]

While the evidence linking the Florida and Texas voter purges is circumstantial, the 1982 Texas scandal has not been investigated or reported. Given Karl Rove's deep involvement of every aspect of Texas Republican Politics, it is inconceivable that he was unaware of the 1982 Texas scandal.

Given Karl Rove's history of political dirty tricks, and his involvement in every aspect of the Bush Campaign, it is difficult to imagine that the 1982 Texas felon purge would suddenly reappear in Florida, without his knowledge or involvement. The Florida Voter Purge -- implemented under the Administration of Jeb Bush -- proved to be pivotal in George W Bush's margin of victory.

Years before the Supreme Court installed him in the White House -- George W Bush appointed himself Commander in Chief -- of a Criminal Conspiracy to Steal the Election.

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[1] "Florida's 'Disappeared Voters': Disfranchised by the GOP", Greg Palast, The Nation, 2/5/01

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[2] "Exposing Karl Rove", Wayne Madsen, Counterpunch, 11/01/02

"Bush's Hit Man", Louis DuBose, The Nation, 03/05/01

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[3] Report from the Voter Rights Institute, 5/07/01

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[4] "Democratic National Committee v. Edward J. Rollins: Politics as Usual or Unusual Politics", Rachel Berry, Race and Ethnic Ancestry Law Journal, Spring 1996, Volume II.

(Note: In August of 2001, after circulating this link with earlier versions of this report, the link to the article went dead. I was told by a WLU representative that all of the REAL publications had been relocated to the West Law Online Library -- which is available to attorneys, on a subscription basis. The above link is to a cached version from the UC Berkeley web archive.)

Excerpts from the Berry article:

Section C. Prior Attempts At Vote Suppression By The Republican National Committee

The lawsuit filed by the DNC against Rollins was not the first time that the DNC accused the Republican Party of targeting black voting for "suppression" in New Jersey.(40) In 1981, Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Florio lost to Republican Thomas Kean in an election that produced the narrowest margin of victory in the history of the state.(41)

Because New Jersey law allows candidates to become governor with only a single-vote margin of victory,(42) Florio requested a manual recount of voting in all districts.(43) Florio also demanded an investigation into charges that the Republican National Committee (RNC) had harassed and intimidated minority voters under the guise of an anti-fraud, "ballot security" program. ...

The plaintiffs alleged that the RNC's ballot security program had discouraged qualified black and Hispanic voters from voting in the gubernatorial election(49) and averred that the conduct had violated New Jersey voters' Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment rights as well as voting rights protected by federal statutes.(50) ...

Apparently believing that the state's procedures for detecting vote fraud were inadequate, the RNC hired a team of consultants, the self-described "Ballot Security Task Force" (BSTF).(52) ...

On election day, the RNC posted large signs in polling areas, printed in red, reading:

WARNING
THIS AREA IS BEING PATROLLED
BY THE NATIONAL BALLOT SECURITY TASK FORCE
IT IS A CRIME TO FALSIFY A BALLOT OR TO VIOLATE ELECTION LAWS (63)

The signs offered a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone violating New Jersey election laws.(64) The RNC posted the signs in violation of state law requiring political material to be kept at a distance from the polls.(65) The signs did not identify their source, and so appeared to be non-partisan announcements.(66)

In addition to posting signs, the RNC hired an "army of workers," including off-duty county deputy sheriffs and local policemen, to patrol the targeted black and Hispanic polling places.(67) The off-duty law enforcement workers prominently displayed revolvers, two-way radios, and BSTF armbands.(68) They challenged voters at the polls, stopping and questioning prospective voters, and refusing to allow prospective voters to enter polling places. They also ripped down the signs of one candidate and forcibly restrained poll workers from assisting voters in casting their ballots.(69)

According to the DNC, the BSTF's tactics were part of a conspiracy designed to intimidate, harass and coerce black and Hispanic voters not to vote.(70) The DNC charged that the BSTF acted with the intent to deprive the voters -- targeted because of their race -- of their rights of equal protection under the law and their right to vote.(71) Two voters joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, alleging that the BSTF had intimidated and harassed them at voting sites.(72) One voter claimed that she did not vote because of the actions of the BSTF.(73) The DNC requested that the court issue an injunction ordering the RNC to refrain from undertaking similar ballot security measures across the country.(74)

The lawsuit filed by the DNC produced a 1982 settlement agreement between the parties and a consent order from Federal District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise binding the RNC on a national level to refrain from further use of ballot integrity programs.(75) The DNC subsequently invoked the settlement order in 1986 when the RNC embarked on another highly publicized ballot security effort in Louisiana.(76) In that case, an RNC-financed ballot security team again used a letter campaign, allegedly to purge the state rolls of illegitimate voters and to ensure the integrity of the election.(77) The ballot security team sent non-forwardable, anonymous letters(78) to registered voters in districts that had voted over seventy-five percent for Walter F. Mondale, the Democratic Presidential candidate in 1984.(79) This voting pattern was confined almost exclusively to predominantly black districts.(80) Undelivered letters were returned to the RNC, which filed 30,000 voter challenges with state election authorities(81) in an effort to get the voters, most of them black,(82) purged from the rolls.(83)

After the primaries, Democratic voters challenged the ballot security measures in state court(84) where State District Judge Richard E. Lee called the ballot security measures "an insidious scheme by the Republican Party to remove blacks from voting rolls,"(85) and ordered registrars to refrain from using RNC information to purge voters from the rolls.(86) The DNC subsequently filed a $10 million lawsuit with Judge Debevoise in Federal District Court in New Jersey, alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 1982 consent order.(87)

According to the DNC, the ballot integrity program in Louisiana was part of an RNC effort in seven other states to illegally purge one million black and Hispanic voters from the rolls and to keep those voters away from the polls on election day.(88) ...

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[5]Karl Rove Bio, Famous Texans

"The Can't-Miss Kid", Robert Bryce, Austin Chronicle, Vol. 18, Issue 39

Excerpt:

"The Man Behind the W."

A longtime friend of the Bush family, Rove has known the Bushes since 1973, when he was president of the College Republicans, and the chairman of the GOP was an oil man from Texas named George Herbert Walker Bush. A few years later, Rove was the first person Bush hired when he decided to run for president. In 1977, Rove went to work for Bush's Houston-based political action committee -- the Fund for Limited Government -- which later became Bush's presidential campaign organization... Rove has another claim to fame: He introduced the late Lee Atwater to former president Bush. Atwater went on to become one of Bush's closest political advisers... Rove has the same killer instinct that Atwater had, and he's shown it in his ability to promote and raise money for Republicans. Five years ago, [political consultant Mark McKinnon said] "Karl Rove is the Republican Party in Texas"... In the late Seventies, Rove worked for Bill Clements, the Republican who broke the Democrats' century-long stranglehold on the governor's office in 1978. In 1982, Rove began working for Phil Gramm... two years later, he helped get Gramm elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican. During the 1984 election, Rove did direct mail work for the Reagan/Bush campaign. Two years later, he helped Clements win a second stint in the governor's office...

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[6] USCRC Report -- Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election (see Chapters 2 & 5)

Also, "The Pre-Clearance Deception" by Paul Lukasiak

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ADDENDUM: Felon Purge Enabling Legislation
(Note the double negative wording in Section 4)

The 2000 Florida Statutes -- Title IX -- ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS
Chapter 98 -- Registration Office, Officers, And Procedures
98.0975 Central voter file; periodic list maintenance.

(1) By August 15, 1998, the division shall provide to each county supervisor of elections a list containing the name, address, date of birth, race, gender, and any other available information identifying the voter of each person included in the central voter file as a registered voter in the supervisor's county who:
(a) Is deceased;
(b) Has been convicted of a felony and has not had his or her civil rights restored; or
(c) Has been adjudicated mentally incompetent and whose mental capacity with respect to voting has not been restored.

(2) The division shall annually update the information required in subsection (1) and forward a like list to each supervisor by June 1 of each year.

(3)(a) In order to meet its obligations under this section, the division shall annually contract with a private entity to compare information in the central voter file with available information in other computer databases, including, without limitation, databases containing reliable criminal records and records of deceased persons.
(b) The entity contracted by the division is designated as an agent of the division for purposes of administering the contract, and must be limited to seeking only that information which is necessary for the division to meet its obligations under this section. Information obtained under this section may not be used for any purpose other than determining voter eligibility.

(4) Upon receiving the list from the division, the supervisor must attempt to verify the information provided. If the supervisor does not determine that the information provided by the division is incorrect, the supervisor must remove from the registration books by the next subsequent election the name of any person who is deceased, convicted of a felony, or adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting. History.--s. 8, ch. 98-129.