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October 4th, 2012:

Interview with County Commissioner Steve Radack

Commissioner Steve Radack

To wrap up my series of interviews relating to the Metro referendum, I spoke to the person with whom Metro Chair Gilbert Garcia brokered the deal on the GMP reauthorization: County Commissioner Steve Radack. Commissioner Radack is a strong advocate of the General Mobility Program and a critic of light rail. I suspect that if you read this blog you’re quite familiar with Commissioner Radack, so we’ll just go straigh to the interview:

Steve Radack MP3

You can still find a list of all interviews I did for this primary cycle, plus other related information, on my 2012 Harris County Primary Elections page and my 2012 Texas Primary Elections page, which I now need to update to include fall candidate information. You can also follow this blog by liking its Facebook page.

Settlement reached in “dead voter” lawsuit

It’s something.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

A lawsuit by four registered voters alleging that the state of Texas was violating their civil rights by purging them from voter rolls has been dropped after the plaintiffs and the state reached an agreement.

The Texas residents brought the suit after receiving letters from their county registrar indicating that the office had reason to believe the voters were dead. Elections officials stated the voters would be dropped from the voter rolls if they did not respond to a letter asking them to prove they were alive within 30 days.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs won an injunction last month to stop the process after tens of thousands of letters were sent out, including many to voters who were still alive. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sought to have the restraining order dissolved, however, and a hearing was scheduled for this week on the matter. After Wednesday’s agreement, however, the plaintiffs agreed to drop the suit after the state agreed that it would not purge voters if they failed to respond within the allotted time frame.

“The confusion arose because some 68,000 notices of ‘potential deceased’ voters were sent out to county voter registrars based on ‘weak’ information that some of them might be dead,” plaintiffs’’ attorney Randall “Buck” Wood said in a news release. “All sorts of voters were mailed out a demand to respond to these notices within 30 days or be purged from the voter rolls right before the election.”

The two sides agreed that instead, the plaintiffs would not object to the purging of voters whom the secretary of state or local registrars could confirm were dead, and the secretary of state’s office sent out a revised instructional statement to county elections administrators.

“Voter registrars are expected to conduct an independent review of ‘weak’ matches to determine whether a voter is appropriately on the voter rolls,” Keith Ingram, the director of the state’s elections division, wrote in the revised statement. “Records of potentially deceased voters should be reviewed as quickly as possible once information is received by a Voter Registrar indicating the voter may be deceased.”

See here for more on the lawsuit. Maybe if the Secretary of State had done a better job informing election administrators and voter registrars what they were supposed to do with the data they got all this unpleasantness could have been avoided. It just boggles my mind at how much more effort we put into making it harder to vote than we do making it easier.

While there were many thousands of voters around the state who got these “prove you’re not dead” letters, I wonder how much attention this would have gotten had it not been for the spectacular snafu in Harris County. The Chron took a closer look at the recipients of those letters here, and guess what they found? Go on, guess.

Voters in traditionally African-American neighborhoods were disproportionately affected when Harris County officials notified 9,000 people their registrations could be cancelled unless they proved they were not deceased, according to a Chronicle analysis of data obtained from the Texas Secretary of State.

Already, 32 percent of voters who received “Are you dead?” letters across the county in September – just six weeks before the presidential elections – have confirmed they are very much alive, election officials said this week. Because of widespread complaints, no county voters will be purged before the November elections unless their deaths are independently confirmed, according to Don Sumners, the county’s tax assessor collector and voter registrar.

The Chronicle’s analysis showed that voters living in African-American districts – specifically created by lawmakers to enhance political representation of blacks on the county commission and the Texas Legislature – received more letters than voters in other districts. Nearly 2,900 live in Harris County Commissioner’s Precinct 1 – a minority opportunity district created more than two decades ago that includes most of the county’s historically black neighborhoods.

You can consider that a coincidence if you want. In a year where the state of Texas has twice been found by a federal court to have systematically discriminated against minority voters, it’s more than a bit of a stretch. Whatever the case, I’m sure it felt like the same old story to a lot of these folks. I’m just glad it got stopped.

Endorsement watch: Constables

The Chron makes recommendations in the three contested races for Constable.

Alan Rosen for Constable, Precinct 1: As a reserve major and commander of the Special Operations Bureau for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Alan Rosen has the law enforcement and management experience that makes for a well-qualified constable.

Chris McDonald for Constable, Precinct 2: A lieutenant in the Baytown Police Department, Chris McDonald has a straightforward, realistic perspective on the Harris County constable offices: They’re good ol’ boy clubs.

Ken Jones for Constable, Precinct 3: Ken Jones is completing his third term as constable for Precinct 3, which covers northeast Harris County, and voters should give him a fourth.

All three Constable precincts favor Democrats, though with all the weirdness this year in Precinct 2, who knows what might happen (McDonald is the Republican). I note that the Chron called out Rosen’s opponent Joe Danna for being a poor choice for the office. All I know is that Danna is the early favorite for the Eric Dick Award for Most Illegally Placed Signs, at least in my neck of the woods.

Texas blog roundup for the week of October 1

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds you that the deadline to register for the election is October 9 as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff has a Q&A with Democratic Supreme Court candidate Michelle Petty, who is running against one of the Court’s least ethical members.

BossKitty at TruthHugger wants all Texans to have all the Texas Voting Information they need, this will stay at the top of my blog page until after November 6. It is disgusting that our Cowardly Congress Kicks The Can Again. Overjoyed to see more corporate manipulators exposed Do You Hear Me Now?

Three Wise Men forecasts the 2012 presidential and Senate elections.

With Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein scheduled to be in Houston and San Antonio from October 4-7, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs found it necessary to once again slay the persistent urban legend that Ralph Nader was responsible for Al Gore’s defeat in the 2000 election.

We’re facing another legislative session that’s will be harmful to the majority of Texans unless we act now. That’s why WCNews at Eye on Williamsonis pointing this out now Here we go again.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw explains why The GOP is Obsessed About Voter Fraud. Hint: the best way to get away with something is to accuse your opponets of it.

Neil as Texas Liberal noted that you have the right to take pictures of bridges and infrastructure and anything in plain view so long as you are not tresspassing. Neil said that business and government are teaming up to deny the basic freedom to observe and make note of the things that are around us in a so-called open society.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Greg Abbott, likely gubernatorial candidate, goes all Christian Taliban by promoting bible verses in school.