Over the last few days stunning new evidence has emerged that appears to prove what many suspected all along: the GOP in Texas is very intentionally engaging in voter suppression targeted at Black and Brown communities.
According to various news reports, a video obtained last week by Common Cause Texas reveals that the Harris County Republican Party (HCRP) is mobilizing an “Election Integrity Brigade” to “build an army of 10,000 people.”
The purpose of the army is to act as poll watchers and election workers who will have the “confidence and courage” to descend upon some of Houston’s most historically Black and Brown neighborhoods to stop alleged voter fraud.
Activists believe that all this coded language tells a thinly veiled story about the lengths the Republican party in Texas is willing to go to to ensure that people of color are kept away from casting their votes.
Common Cause Texas blurred out the Republican official’s name for his privacy but claims the video which is dated March 10, was circulated online by the Harris County Republican Party as a means of recruitment.
“The impetus for releasing right now is there are some bills in the legislature that seek to empower poll watchers in some really scary ways, and also at the same time, take away the power of the presiding judge at the poll site from being able to remove a disruptive poll watcher,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas.
According to NBC News, Harris County GOP Chair Cindy Siegel confirmed in a statement to them that the program aims to recruit “an army of volunteers” throughout the county as a way “to engage voters for the whole ballot, top to bottom, and ensure every legal vote is counted.”
Siegel also dismissed Common Cause “a radical leftist group that is blatantly mischaracterizing a grassroots election worker recruitment video in a shameful effort to bully and intimidate Republicans.”
But Gutierrez believes the evidence provided by his organization speaks for itself.
“What we see in this video is a concrete, real-world example of why it is a downright dangerous idea to expand poll watcher powers while removing the ability of election workers to kick a disruptive poll watcher out,” he opined.
“Volunteer poll watchers who have no ill intent and who do not plan to disrupt voting would have no need to be ‘courageous’ about going into predominantly Black and Brown communities. When I hear someone say he needs ‘courageous’ volunteers to be part of an ‘army’ that will keep an eye on voters in minority neighborhoods, I hear all the same old dog whistles with a slightly updated harmony.”
“Giving partisan poll watchers the exclusive power to surveil voters and election workers and then secretly submit video and photos to the Secretary of State and Attorney General is an evolved tactic that has its roots in the Jim Crow Era,” he concluded.
“It should be a cause for alarm for anyone who cares about racial justice, privacy, and whether we want the state government encouraging partisan actors to spy on their fellow Texans while they try to cast their ballot.”