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Opinion Opinion

OPINION: State Capital Highlights - Many registered but few voted in primaries

AUSTIN — Looking back at the March 4 primaries, Texas boasted 13,601,324 voters registered in time to cast a ballot.

An estimated 9 percent of the overall number of registered voters (about 1.3 million) voted in the Republican primary and 4 percent (500,000) voted in the Democratic primary. 

Runoffs between the top two vote-getting candidates in a number of contests are scheduled for Tuesday, May 27, the day after the federal holiday, Memorial Day. Votes count big in any election, but as historic participation records reveal, the portion of the electorate that actually votes in runoffs is an even thinner slice of the whole. And voter turnout is especially low in mid-term (non-presidential election year) runoffs, as those set for May 27 will be. Usually about 2 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in those.

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OPINION: South Texas Voter Fraud - Part 6: What’s Ahead?

During the past weeks, I’ve talked about an election that occurred in 2000, but the election problems and voter fraud have spanned decades.

The hope is that this series has begun to get people talking, analyzing and re-evaluating their own attitudes and perceptions about this issue and voting generally—to be more self-aware about personal voting patterns and more peripherally aware. Its intent is not to titillate the gossip, but to motivate action.

Thank you for the kind words of encouragement we have received. Please share, encourage others and become involved.

What’s happening today? The printed size of the Texas Election Code has grown since the first copy I purchased in 2000. So, now the process begins again as I read the newest version front to back. I am updating my knowledge base to the current laws and procedures relative to the current conditions. But, this time I’m analyzing it more carefully from an informed perspective and weighing it against the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)—which has influenced election processes across the country. This year I am also planning to attend training for election officials and workers at the state and county level to see what is happening in that process.

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OPINION: South Texas Voter Fraud - Part 5: Are you the problem or the solution?

My mother, June Brann, and I had a lot of political discussions over the years on a variety of subjects.

On one occasion—and more years back than I want to admit—we were discussing the public’s integrity and the tide of elections generally.

She said, “People will always vote their pocketbooks.”

I replied, “The people will never vote for an individual with higher moral character than that which they personally possess. The moral fiber of those elected to office reflects the moral fiber of the populace.”

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OPINION: South Texas Voter Fraud - Part 4: Procedures, practices and pitfalls = problems

Up to now, this series has only skimmed the surface of the cogs turning the wheel of voter fraud in South Texas. The convoluted layers require multiple elements to survive and for the machine to move forward.

The root begins with the official procedures for the conduct of elections in Texas governed by the Texas Election Code. The election laws can be broken into two main parts—those which are procedural only and have no legal consequence and those which do have legal consequence. Any consequence may be defined as a misdemeanor or a felony within the Election Code, depending on the degree of severity it interferes with the individual’s right to vote. But, both parts still have direct and irretrievable effect on an election’s outcome if not administered properly.

Practices could best be described by the too often heard exclamation, “But that’s the way it’s always been done!” Because it’s always been done that way doesn’t mean it’s correct or legal. How far did that argument get you with your mother? Then they cry, “Discrimination!” if someone else—with correct knowledge—cries, “Foul!” Last time anyone checked, the rule of law applies to everyone.

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OPINION: South Texas Voter Fraud - Part 3: The paper trail and the politiquera system

The scene has been set. Two independent groups were analyzing the paper trail of the March, 2000, Hidalgo County primary elections. Each for very different reasons: a group of citizens concerned over voting irregularities and Tony Peña, who lost the sheriff’s race by 47 votes, and his supporters.

The two teams came up with some of the same things and independent additional things. It painted the overall picture of the South Texas voting climate.

We did not merge our findings until later, after Peña had withdrawn his efforts to contest the election. He did not withdraw because of weakness in the evidence in documenting disenfranchised voters. It was due to the prohibitive cost involved when his opponent asked to have everyone deposed two days before the civil suit—a cost that had to be borne by the one contesting the election, not by the opponent.

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OPINION - State Capital Highlights: Permanent School Fund reaches new high

AUSTIN — Texas’ 160-year-old Permanent School Fund had grown to $29 billion, a record high value, in December 2013, the Texas Education Agency reported Feb. 6.

The fund was created by the state in 1854 with a $2 million investment. Last year was a good one. In fiscal year 2013, which ended Aug. 31, the fund earned a return of 10.16 percent — the highest return earned by any major state of Texas investment fund. Recent strong returns also made the Permanent School Fund the best performing major state fund over a three-year period ending on Aug. 31, 2013, with a return of 11.07 percent.

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OPINION: South Texas Voter Fraud - Part 2: Setting the scene: Why get involved?

There’s a story to tell—actually numerous, individual stories—but their summation is centered on one thing: the longtime, illegal voting practices and abuses in South Texas.

This chapter in the story begins with why I chose to get involved in South Texas voting problems.

It was the year 2000. Some will recall it as the year of the contested wrangling between political factions following the November general election. Time seemingly stood still during the furor over the presidential race. Scrutinized under the national microscope, dangling chads were flying off ballots in Florida—sometimes with assistance.  It held the nation riveted. In the sea of flying accusations of illegalities compromising the election’s integrity, it became a national debate of finger pointing. It was not the finest hour for partisan politics. All the while, it left citizens across the country bewildered, talking and frustrated.

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OPINION: South Texas Voter Fraud - Part 1: More than meets the eye?

Regarding an editorial*, “Commentary: Encouraging RGV voters through civic engagement,” which ran Jan. 27 with The Monitor:

The author, a Michael Seifert from Brownsville, writes, "As the 2014 primary election season begins to heat up, members of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network are preparing to knock on doors throughout the region, including South McAllen, in a nonpartisan effort to encourage neighbors and friends to get out and vote."

Nonpartisan? How so? The definition of “partisan” is “strong supporter of a party, cause or person.”  It’s a word that is bandied about too easily these days and is misleading in most uses.

His piece ends with "The Get Out the Vote project is a collaborative effort involving LUPE, Proyecto Azteca, ARISE, Texas Organizing Project, South Texas Civil Rights’ Project and the ACLU in Hidalgo County." Everything between is a partisan position on HB-5.

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