© 2012 jbjd
UPDATED 05.01.12 (15:00 EDT): See below.
This morning, kjcanon, from Arlington; and Native Texan, from Calvert; met in Austin with Attorney Keith Ingram, Election Director, Texas Secretary of State, for what kjc and NT had scheduled would be an “in-depth” discussion of “the Texas election process.” With kjc’s help; I drafted the letter which served as the basis for that ‘discussion,’ in which we synthesized the key glitches we had worked to identify in the Texas electoral process, insofar as these problems related to the job qualifications of candidates whose names appear on the Texas ballot. kjc meticulously assembled a folder containing documentary evidence that backed up these allegations. kjc and NT also provided a narrative of their personal experiences trying to obtain voting related information. The meeting began at 10:30 AM; it was all over by 11:03.
Before reading my report of the results of that meeting, which were conveyed by telephone to me, shortly thereafter; please, read the letter. Trust me: it’s the only way to fully grasp the nature of Mr. Ingram’s response to the presentation.
(If you have trouble viewing this document in Scribd; here are jpeg images of that same letter.)
In short; here was Mr. Ingram’s response. (My abbreviated editorial comments follow, in orange.)
You gave me assertions only; you have not given me any facts. (Obviously, we not only gave you facts but also offered to give you documentary evidence to back up those facts.)
All the information voters need is on VoteTexas.gov. “I would even call it impeccable.” (Yes; you may call the information you provide, impeccable; but not if the Secretary’s purpose in posting that information is to inform the voters. Because we are voters and, we just reported to you that we, along with numerous other Texas voters disagree that the Secretary provides adequate information so as to cast an informed vote. Are you blaming us voters for failing to intuit election related information that’s not on your web site, such as the ‘fact,’ candidates are using at least 3 (three) different ballot applications? Are you rejecting all suggestions that we voters get to decide what information we require to cast informed votes in the election?)
The Secretary of State has no enforcement power; go to the Legislature. (We are not asking you to enforce anything; rather, we are asking you to tell us what you know about how candidates access the ballot; which are the same things we need to know to become informed voters.) (The TX legislature is not in session until January 2013.)
We’re not required to post completed party application forms. (That’s precisely why we didn’t cite a law requiring you to post these applications and, instead, cited to your promise to appropriately inform voters regarding elections.)
If you want to challenge the ballot, go through the courts. (And say what, that we are Unaffiliated or Write-in candidates who are being denied Equal Protection of the law inasmuch as only we are required by the SoS to swear to Constitutional eligibility for office in order to get on the Texas Presidential ballot, whereas the Republican and Democrat candidates only fill out the party’s application?) (Or are you just trying to send us on a wild goose chase, like your colleague tried before you, alleging a legal violation when, by merely withholding information from the voters; no one has actually broken any laws?)
I always say, any answer is an answer. That is, we now know, the Elections office will not act on our request, on its own. So, to get action on the proposals and problems pointed out in the letter; we are following the chain of command – Mr. Ingram > his boss, Secretary Andrade > her boss, Governor Perry – until the buck stops. (That is, whoever is left with the final decision to amend the Secretary’s operations. This will likely be Ms. Andrade.) That’s where we will concentrate our efforts to ensure whatever steps necessary to make the information referred to in this letter available to all Texas voters. Assuming this means getting Secretary Andrade to act; I will again provide a ‘complaint,’ of sorts, for downloading and sending, which will be a re-format of the letter for wider use and distribution, and will include links to appropriate documentation. Fortunately, the Secretary’s web site suggests that voter concerns are transmitted electronically.
Of course, convincing the Secretary to shore up her operation will not resolve the problem of candidate ballot eligibility, which will require legislative action, up to and including calling an emergency session before the Presidential election. And, if more people understood the mess that is the current ‘system’ of getting candidates on the ballot; well, presumably they would be sufficiently outraged to demand such an emergency session and, to require the passage of appropriate legislation.
That said; with a few simple alterations in the rules; at least, the Secretary could achieve a uniform standard of candidate ballot application. But, as can be inferred by the attitude of Director Ingram; she is unlikely even to do that without massive citizen action. And that’s where you come in. If you can get fellow Texas voters to understand all of this election related material then, feeling like you feel now, they will be inspired in sufficient numbers to mobilize to require changes in the administrative procedures currently in place in the Office of the Secretary, including both posting the requested information and, making the rules apply equally to both unaffiliated and party candidates.
Because once we achieve widespread distribution of the information referenced in these complaint letters; no doubt enough voters will become sufficiently mobilized to demand the necessary candidate ballot eligibility legislation.
UPDATE 05.01.12 (15:00 EDT): kjc hand-delivered a follow-up letter to Mr. Ingram’s boss, the Honorable Hope Andrade, Secretary of State of Texas.
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