A Republican official in Harris County, Texas, was heard on a video presentation saying that 10,000 volunteers were needed to form an “election integrity brigade” in Houston to fight against election fraud, the Washington Post reports.
We know that there is no evidence of election fraud in Harris County, but the person in the video insists that there is. In the video, the unnamed official pulls up a map of the county’s voting locations—basically, the diverse areas where people of color vote—and said the GOP needed volunteers with “the confidence and courage to come down here” to look out for irregularities.
“This is where the fraud is occurring,” the official added.
Common Cause Texas, a government accountability group, which published the video Thursday, is rightfully claiming that the video is a warning that Republicans are planning to intimidate and suppress voters in metro Houston, where large numbers of people of color live.
“It’s very clear that we’re talking about recruiting people from the predominantly Anglo parts of town to go to Black and brown neighborhoods,” Anthony Gutierrez, the group’s executive director, told the Washington Post.
“This is a role that’s supposed to do nothing but stand at a poll site and observe,” he added. So “why is he suggesting someone needs to be ‘courageous’?” Gutierrez asked.
Here is more on what the official said, per the Post:
The video documents a presentation by a GOP official in Harris County, seemingly to other members of the chapter. Common Cause Texas said it obtained a recording of the presentation from a concerned citizen who received a link to the video.
In the video, the presenter lays out a plan to recruit and train more than 10,000 people to be spread across every voting precinct in Harris County — mostly as volunteer poll watchers, with others who can be nominated for paid roles selected by local elections administrators.
He said he lives in a precinct in the northwestern part of Harris County, outside Houston city limits, where 7 in 10 households are Republican.
Such an area would be a good place to recruit poll watchers, he added, but it would make for a “pretty safe precinct.” Instead, he said that “a lot of Republican folks have got to have the courage [to work outside the suburbs]. If we don’t do that, this fraud down in here is really going to continue.”
He also specifically mentioned sending poll watchers to monitor voting at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, a Black congregation that once hosted Martin Luther King Jr. and has played a key role in Houston’s civil rights history.
Of course, the Harris County Republican Party is saying the video isn’t a big deal and are playing victim, telling the Post that Common Cause is “blatantly mischaracterizing a grassroots election worker recruitment video” and that the group is trying “to bully and intimidate Republicans.”
What we do know is the Texas legislature is moving in the direction of Georgia and other GOP states that are passing laws to make it harder to access the ballot box, as The Root previously reported. We also know that, at least nationally, Texas is certainly trending towards being a purple state and that next year’s gubernatorial race will feature potential candidates on the Democratic side—Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro , in particular—who can upset sitting GOP Gov. Greg Abbott.
The best way to ensure a GOP victory and keep the state red: cheat.
This video is just an example of how Republicans view the only path to victory is not with better ideas but to intimidate their way to electoral success.