TEXAS, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

© 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.

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(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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23 Responses to TEXAS, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

  1. jbjd says:

    This letter to the TX SoS Office of Elections summarizes so much of what is wrong with the process of getting only the names of candidates qualified for the job, onto our state ballots. Please post links to this article. Educating voters throughout the country is the only way to ensure that 1) we elect only those candidates for whom we cast our votes (NPVI); and 2) we cast our votes only for Presidents who are Constitutionally eligible for the job. If voters throughout the country understood what is going on with the ballot in TX, I remain confident we would be sufficiently motivated to work to change the status quo not only in TX but in the other 49 states, too. .

  2. dtaft5 says:

    I agree 100% and will notify my Tea Party friends to get help to make our Leaders do the right thing not the convenient do nothing policy they have been doing.

    • jbjd says:

      dtaft5: Welcome! SoS Hope Andrade is the ‘leader’ who can change the rules that could at least standardize candidate ballot applications so that all Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, even party candidates, must swear directly to her, an oath of federal eligibility for the job. But now that we have notified her office, these changes need to be made; we don’t know yet whether she will do this sua sponte, that is, on her own; or at the direction of Governor Perry; or as the result of citizen action. If she determines not to require uniform rules; then she must at least post the disparate candidate applications so that everyone knows her office utilizes a triple standard.

      In other words, if there’s nothing wrong; why not err on the side of informing the voters, even if yours is an appointed office under the TX Constituton? ADMINISTRATOR

  3. kjcanon says:

    jbjd, I just posted our story on my facebook page, tagged a BUNCH of tea party groups in Texas, and of course all of my facebook friends. It’s time to ‘kick the tires and light the fires’!

    • jbjd says:

      kjcanon: I think the several discoveries condensed in that 2-page letter to Director Ingram at the TX SoS need to be individually presented for people to really ‘get’ what is going on. Because if they really ‘got’ what is presented; they couldn’t possibly be as complacent as they appear.

      Maybe a title like, ‘UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS NEED APPLY (to get on the Presidential ballot in TX)’? ADMINISTRATOR

  4. kjcanon says:

    And of course, one more thing: From the Great State of Texas, we humbly thank you!!!

  5. teakwoodkite says:

    I thought the letter to the SoS was to the point and well presented. I do hope you get positive response. Not holding one’s breath, I think you should have cc’ed the Governors office. 🙂

    Just spot on work. 🙂

    • jbjd says:

      teakwoodkite: Which letter, the 2-page letter to Mr. Ingram, Director of Elections, spelling out the myriad ways the SoS fails to provide TX voters adequate information on which to base an informed vote; or to Ms. Andrade, complaining that the presentation of the previous letter was ignored? Because being ignored is bad enough; but, creating a system with ballot eligibility requirement (of sorts) for Independent/Unaffiliated candidates (the oath of eligibility to the SoS) but not for party candidates; and not telling the voters, ‘We have different rules for the parties’; is worse. And as for ‘work’; well, the 1-page letter complaining about the treatment in her office took less than 1 hour. But perfecting the 2-page summation of all that is wrong with the election information the office provides (based on their disparate treatment of candidates); took days. ADMINISTRATOR

      • teakwoodkite says:

        Yes the escalation letter to the SoS. It is building a paper trail and track record of non-performance.

        I would think the if a subordinate is submissive of a valid legal concern and then their “boss” is unresponsive and the Governor is as well, it may open other judicial venues in which to persue the matter. It maybe that the “slow walk” is what you are confronting. There is an awful lot of money invested in the current ventilation system of this smokey room.

        • jbjd says:

          teakwoodkite: Yes; but, are you ready for this? Under the TX constitution, the SoS is an appointed position. So, Gov. Perry appointed SoS Andrade, who was confirmed by the TX Senate. And, Director Ingram, Director of Elections; was previously Gov. Perry’s Appointments Secretary! SoS Andrade might not have received the letter yet. But, yes, we are going to the Governor. Ultimately, the citizens of TX will have to be so outraged at this situation, that they express that ire in communications to their state officials, beginning with the SoS. But, judging just by the ‘hits’ on this blog; I cannot say, at this time, they are.

          As for your point, “There is an awful lot of money invested in the current ventilation system of this smokey room”; well, again, judging just by ‘hits’ to my PayPal button; people are less determined to help me to fight this corruption than they are to retain the status quo. ADMINISTRATOR

      • merlin78639 says:

        I am totally in favor of what you are doing, but the punctuation in the letter was so abysmal I had trouble reading it. I would be more than happy to correct it if you would like; it would make a stronger impression if it were correct.

  6. jbjd,

    Great letter written to Mr. Ingram which exposed what happens or doesn’t happen ‘behind the scenes’ of the Texas elections department. I’m sorry to see Mr. Ingram is not willing to work with citizen voters of the state. The people of Texas don’t need to go through the courts as suggested by Mr. Ingram to find out if presidential candidates are constitutionally eligible for the job every time, every election and every candidate.

    Texas election law requires all presidential candidates to be constitutionally eligible for the job. With the general election coming up, what is the Secretary of State and the elections department going to do to “preserve the purity of the ballot box”?

    Texas readers and all readers must understand the primary ballot applications for the state Parties are state Party generated which mimic and look like the official state issued primary and general election ballot application forms. The state Party generated forms are not state issued forms, the state Parties make them up. There are no state issued state Party primary ballot applications for President, so the state Party can put anything on those forms they want to and they did. Those applications are only required to be submitted to the Secretary of State.

    Republican state Party generated form;

    Democratic state Party generated form;

    Official state issued Independent and Write-In candidate general election application forms for President;
    http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/forms/dw1-3.pdf
    http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/forms/dw1-1.pdf

    The laws prescribing the Independent and Write-In candidate general election application forms for President don’t require these information questions; “LENGTH OF RESIDENCE IN THE UNITED STATES” and “ARE YOU A NATURAL BORN CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES?”

    Independent Candidates:
    “(a) To be ENTITLED to a place on the general election ballot, an independent candidate for president of the United States must make an application for a place on the ballot. …”
    [emphasis added]
    http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/txstatutes/EL/11/192/B/192.032

    Write-In candidates:
    “(b) A declaration of write-in candidacy for president must satisfy the requirements prescribed by Section 192.032(b) for an independent presidential candidate’s application for a place on the ballot, except that a petition is not required.”
    http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/txstatutes/EL/11/192/B/192.036

    This means the Secretary of State added (promulgated) the information questions on the official state application forms requiring independent and write-in candidates be constitutionally qualified for the job even though the swearing by the candidate is self-authenticating.
    ——————-

    Political Parties
    “A political party is ENTITLED to have the names of its nominees for president and vice-president of the United States placed on the ballot in a presidential general election if:

    (1) the nominees possess the qualifications for those offices prescribed by federal law;”
    [emphasis added]
    http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/txstatutes/EL/11/192/B/192.031

    All presidential candidates must be constitutionally qualified for the job as required by Texas law and the official state general election ballot applications.

    “(a) Except as provided by Subsection (c), the secretary of state shall certify in writing for placement on the general election ballot the names of the candidates for president and vice-president who are ENTITLED to have their names placed on the ballot.”
    [emphasis added]
    http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/txstatutes/EL/11/192/B/192.033

    ENTITLED for a place on the ballot also means being constitutionally qualified for the job not just certifying names.

    How are Texans going to know if any of the presidential candidates are constitutionally qualified for the job if no one, including the state Party, is checking? What is the Secretary of State and the elections department going to do? Texas citizens should demand a solution and help put ideas forward to resolve the problem.

    No ballot eligible ‘state Party’, ‘independent’ and ‘write-in’ presidential candidates can only mean no presidential election for Texas with preprinted ballot names leaving only
    write-in names whom must be verified for constitutional eligibility and approved by the state elections department before the general election.

    • jbjd says:

      acitizenonthego: Thank you so much for synthesizing these issues, again; and for including links. The funny thing is, given the fact, in TX, no law requires that Presidential candidates must be qualified to appear on the ballot; the only ‘claim’ to qualification citizens can assert to the SoS is this: she requires Independent and Non-affiliated to swear to Constitutional eligibility and so, she should apply the same rules to the parties. Thus, she can just use those same rules to apply to the parties; or she can remove the oath in the application for unaffiliated candidates. Eventually, the legislature has to act; because the SoS can change rules (carrying out the legislative intent, as expressed in these laws) at any time.

      Isn’t this absurd that voters in TX can see the candidate ballot application forms side by side on the “jbjd” blog but not on the official web site of the SoS? ADMINISTRATOR

  7. […] UPDATE 05.04.12: Events in 2012 have mooted out much of this piece. Specifically, Boyd Richie has now produced the 2012 candidate application submitted by Barack Obama, which contained neither evidence of Constitutional eligibility nor a self-affirmation from the candidate. But as it turns out; SoS Andrade wasn’t putting either the D or the R Presidential nominees on the ballot because, having established federal eligibility, they were entitled, under the law. Indeed, TX law does not require Presidential eligibility to appear on the ballot. Rather, having determined on her own that federal eligibility was a prerequisite for both Independent and Write-in Presidential candidates getting on the ballot; she was either exercising her discretion to assume federal eligibility of party candidates; or, merely applying a different eligibility standard for these affiliated candidates. TEXAS, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. […]

  8. Tim Langston says:

    Thank you for alerting me of this problem. I agree with you completely and I will be watching for follow-up comments. We have taken our liberties and freedoms for granite for to long.Thanks again,

    • jbjd says:

      Tim Langston: You are welcome. It is amazing what we have taken for granted with respect to our electoral system. That’s why, since the summer of 2008, I have been blogging, trying to spread the word about what I learn. Because as long as an information deficit remains; those few of us who know more than the rest of us will continue to capitalize on that information inequality by stealing our ‘communal’ electoral power. (Just look at how many people still believe on-line electronic images of a COLB or ‘long form’ birth certificate (or a hard copy of the ‘original’ source of those images); are bona fide evidence of the identification claims made therein, and not just elements of a damn good paid political advertising campaign!)ADMINISTRATOR

    • jbjd says:

      Tim Langston: You are welcome. It is amazing what we have taken for granted with respect to our electoral system. That’s why, since the summer of 2008, I have been blogging, trying to spread the word about what I learn. Because as long as an information deficit remains; those few of us who know more than the rest of us will continue to capitalize on that information inequality by stealing our ‘communal’ electoral power. (Just look at how many people still believe on-line electronic images of a COLB or ‘long form’ birth certificate (or a hard copy of the ‘original’ source of those images); are bona fide evidence of the identification claims made therein, and not just elements of a damn good paid political advertising campaign!)ADMINISTRATOR

  9. […] official web site, which is vital to making the voters of TX well-informed at the polls – TEXAS, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. – does not mean, these facts cannot be disseminated, […]

  10. […] Attorney Keith Ingram, the SoS’s Director of Elections, who had dismissed in its entirety her petition to improve access to voter information. […]

  11. Robert Carter says:

    jbjd and Kelly,

    Thank you for your service to all freedom loving Texans.

    The Arizona Secretary of State is also concerned…

    atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2012/05/arizona-elections-chief-asks-hawaii-for-proof-of-obamas-citizenship.html

    Robert

    • jbjd says:

      Robert: You are welcome. But this report about the AZ SoS is illustrative in that it points to what is wrong with this hyperbolic approach to eligibility. First, no law in AZ requires candidates to be eligible for the job in order to appear on the ballot. Thus, if by his conduct the SoS is saying, this is his new policy; even assuming such agency ‘rule’ is legal; he needs to apply this eligibility requirement across the board, to all candidates. Otherwise, he is still acting unlawfully. (This is the problem we are having with SoS Andrade in TX.) Second, HI officials are legally prohibited from discussing or releasing the vital records held by that state. (See, for example, RECOGNIZING when the PEOPLE INVOLVED with the PRESS ROLLOUT of PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 2011 LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE AD CAMPAIGN WORE a PUBLIC v. PRIVATE HAT.) Rather, any vital records must be requested by the person named in those records, or by someone holding a signed waiver by that person to his or her records.

      People who assume President Obama is not Constitutionally eligible for the job are too often too willing to break the law to prove their point. I wish they spent more time learning how things work and then, tweaking the law to achieve their desired results. I don’t mind telling you; I am afraid of people who continue to champion the efforts of someone like this SoS for acting on his own, with no lawful basis for his actions, just because they like what he says is his justification for breaking the law. How shortsighted to trust he will never steal ‘your’ rights in the process.

      Arizonans have had 4 years to change their ballot laws; but, obviously, they prefer to extol the virtues of lone-wolf ideologues like this SoS; or Sheriff Arpaio, a lawbreaker from way back; to do the dirty work. ADMINISTRATOR

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