Forty four (44) of my opponents’ votes came from the same address at 5200 Keller Springs Road, the Bonaventure, where Lee M. Kleinman’s parents live. Coincidence? There are 340 units at the Bonaventure, so maybe they just had a big ballot-filling-out party?
The Dallas Morning News took note and may have dropped a gift in my lap. In a recent story on voter fraud, they brought up my May 6 City Council race against Kleinman:
In his contentious race against real-estate blogger Candy Evans this spring, incumbent City Council member Lee Kleinman sent mail-in ballot applications to registered likely voters who are older than 65 so they could fill them out and send them back to the county.
As a result, of the almost 2,900 votes Kleinman received, more than 440 were by mail — a massive number considering that in West Dallas, ground zero for alleged voter fraud, 568 mail-in votes were spread among six candidates, including Alonzo.
As you may know, the voter fraud allegations in West Dallas have led to a criminal investigation. More may follow.
Then WFAA ran a great piece Tuesday evening on voter fraud, where an insider at the Dallas County Elections office tells of how money is exchanged for information on when voting ballots hit certain zip codes. Why would someone pay for this information? So a candidate can make sure they have a representative ready at the door the minute that ballot comes in, and then “help” them fill it out.
“He goes in there. He speaks to this county employee. The county employee tips him off by ZIP code, lets him know which precincts are dropping,” explained Williams. “Either he’s stealing them from the mailbox, yanking them from a little old lady who probably has them, says he’s going to assist her in a specific way for a specific candidate.”
This is called harvesting votes, and it is not illegal in Texas, if done according to the law. But often it is not. And I think there is a very fine line harvesting votes when it comes to senior citizens.
Aaron Harris with Direct Action Texas helped me in my recent campaign. Aaron is best known for busting a voter fraud scheme in Tarrant County — now he is focusing in Dallas County. He was the first to help bust open the West Dallas case where a woman found that a spectre named “Jose Rodriguez” signed his name as witness on her mail-in ballot. Washington said that is not her signature, and she does not know Jose Rodriguez. Now the Dallas County district attorney’s office says that a Jose Rodriguez does not live at the address listed on the paperwork. Yet his name appeared on hundreds of ballots in the West Dallas race where six candidates are now filtered down to two, incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Monica Alonzo and civic leader Omar Narvaez. Alonzo is, for some reason, heavily supported by Mayor Mike Rawlings and his flush super pac, For Our Community.
So voter harvesting is legal, unless it is done by a person who does not exist, or if the ballots are not filled out correctly. In Tarrant County last year, Aaron found obscene vote harvesting in an election for a water board race. For one, ballots in a couple precincts had more than a thousand applications with the same handwriting, plus forged signatures. Vote harvesters show up in a neighborhood circulating a petition, where they can take signatures and copy them for ballots :
“We found the same kind of ballot harvesting and forgery happening in other cities within Dallas County,” says Aaron. “Unfortunately for those in Dallas, this problem is not just contained within the city’s west side, OR the city limits of Dallas,”
It’s nice to make voting easier for those over 65, invalids or folks who might be out of town on election day. But we have to find a better way, with more documentation, transparency and objectivity. Like Aaron says, if in a democratic society we uphold one person, one vote, mail-in balloting has become one ballot, one hundred votes.
Sending a mail-in ballot application to District 11 senior citizens, and encouraging them to vote for a chosen opponent, is getting pretty close to crossing the line.