Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry just can’t help himself when it comes to snuggling up the the Radical Secessionist Wingnuts of the State. The Gov had his hair all done up nice and purty as he did the ribbon cutting honors at the King Street Patriots’ new headquarters at 7232 Wynnwood Lane in Houston, Texas. The King Street Patriots, an arm of the Republican Party and reportedly funded by the Koch brothers right wing machine, came to the forefront in the 2010 elections.
The group started their “True The Vote” campaign in response to the “Rock the Vote” which was President Obama’s campaign to get the vote in the 2008 presidential election. The group was allegedly tied to the Houston area Tea Party group that sent a number of distasteful, grammatically challenged and degrading emails to a group called Houston Votes, which was trying to register voters.
In the 2010 election the King Street Patriots poll watchers participating in the “True The Vote” campaign were accused of hovering over voters, getting into election workers’ faces and blocking or disrupting lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots primarily in minority districts and in October 2010 the Justice Department bgan an investigating the King Street Patriots’ anti-voter fraud campaign after receiving a number of complaints about voter intimidation in Hispanic and African-American areas.
In the 2010 election, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, requested the Department of Justice investigate whether tea party groups are intimidating black and Hispanic voters in her district. Representative Lee asked Attorney General Eric Holder to send poll monitors to her district on November 2 to make sure the King Street Patriots weren’t attempting to stop people from voting. Representative Lee said €œMany of these incidents of voter intimidation have been occurring in predominately minority neighborhoods and have been directed at African-Americans and Latinos. It is unconscionable to think that anyone would deliberately employ the use of such forceful and intimidating tactics in 2010 to undermine the fundamental, constitutional right to vote. I urge you to order an immediate investigation into these incidents and call for the Department of Justice to send poll monitors to Harris County immediately to ensure a safe and neutral voting environment during the Nov. 2 election.€
Representative Lee reported that the tea party group is sending in poll watchers who have been trained to aggressively monitor voters by standing directly behind them. The Texas Democratic Party described the King Street Patriot’s True the Vote campaign as a “vote suppression scheme.” There were many reported incidents of the group hovering and standing directly behind and looking over voters as they voted. In one incident a female poll watcher said thaat she felt it was necessary and acceptable to stand directly behind voters while they entered their votes. When the election judge requested that the woman back away from the voter, her response was that she had been trained by the True to Vote program and that “I have the right to stand wherever I want!”
A spokesman for the King Street Patriot replied that they were so concerned by attacks against volunteer stay-at-home moms or elderly poll-watchers, and that they had requested that the Justice Department send help to ensure the poll watchers were not being descriminated against while doing their jobs. The request said that having poll watchers is not only the law, it is crucial in a free society that all candidates and parties can see and make sure the election was held with integrity and that being attacked for fulfilling that civic role is inexcusable.
For the 2012 elections, The King Street Patriots have ramped up their efforts and plan to recruit 1 million poll watchers to monitor the 2012 elections in Texas. The program teaches volunteeers to become investigators and provides spreadsheets of the registered voters in each precinct, The Patriots are then reqquested to verify the registrations aren’t fraudulent. It is curious however that the vast majority of the areas the group is concerned with are precincts with a large numbers of minority voters. The group was amazingly unconcerned with predominately white precincts.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie released the following statement.”As if endorsing their methods weren’t bad enough, Perry and legislative Republicans are trying to change the law to legalize the voter intimidation tactics this group used last year. It’s shameful that their agenda amounts to an assault on the essence of our democracy, voter participation.”
These developments are scary as the very essence of our democracy is the right to vote. The assault on voting rights of minorities has been an ongoing process which with the Tea Party’s activism has only intensified and threatens the very rights of the citizens of Texas and the United States. The King Street Patriots and like Tea Party groups are only the latest arm of the Republican establishments assault on the voting rights of minority voters.