This happened late last week while I was still affected by my site outage.
For the second time in as many years, the Texas Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit against the Harris County tax assessor-collector, accusing the Republican-led voter registration office with illegally rejecting voter applications and with sharing information with political allies that it did not share with Democrats last year.
The Democratic Party made similar accusations about what it said were improperly rejected voter applications in a lawsuit filed just after the 2008 elections against then-Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt. Bettencourt denied any wrongdoing, but the county and Vasquez settled the suit with the Democrats last year.
The Democrats charge that Vasquez has violated the settlement agreement.
There are two points that need to be addressed. One has to do with who gets to see information from the Tax Assessor’s office:
The suit also alleges that Vasquez shared voter information with a citizens anti-voter fraud group called True the Vote, an offshoot of a local tea party group, that his office would not share with the Democrats last year.
“It’s apparent that voter registration in Harris County is being run for partisan gain,” said Chad Dunn, general counsel for the state Democratic Party.
Vasquez countered that True the Vote acquired information through an open records request — and paid for it — just as any other individual or group could. The group examined voter records at addresses where six or more people are registered to vote and found instances where there is no dwelling on the property. Last year, the Democrats asked for copies of 70,000 voter registration applications that were rejected or deemed incomplete. The records would have required redactions to protect personal information, and at the time the county put a price tag of $1.5 million on the information. The Democrats did not obtain the information.
In other words, Vasquez wanted to charge the Democrats more than $200 per record. Putting aside for the moment whether or not that’s a reasonable price, the story does not say how many records True the Vote requested, how much they were charged for them, or where they might have gotten the money for it if the price tag was at all comparable to the one shown to the TDP. Seems to me that’s a pretty objective thing to measure, and might settle the question about equivalent access in short order.
The other point has to do with the character of True the Vote, since they’re presenting themselves as some kind of defenders of truth, justice, and the American way. To that end, I direct you to Glenn Smith, who shows that one other thing True the Vote stands for is creating fake images to further their goals. Note to Leo Vasquez: You should be more careful about who you get into bed with.