With only a few days until the election, ’tis the season for dirty tricks at the polls. In Houston, Texas, flyers telling people not to vote straight down the Democratic ticket have been placed on the windshields of cars at a polling place in a predominantly black neighborhood. TPM has the details:
“Republicans are trying to trick us!” the flier reads. “When you vote straight ticket Democrat, it is actually voting for Republicans and your vote doesn’t count. We are urging everyone to VOTE for BILL WHITE. A VOTE for BILL WHITE is a VOTE for the ENTIRE DEMOCRATIC ticket. We have fought too hard to let Republicans use voting machines to deny us our basic rights. We must guard the change and NOT VOTE STRAIGHT TICKET DEMOCRAT!”
“YES WE CAN,” the flier read.
The flyer says that it’s from a group called the “Black Democratic Trust of Texas,” which doesn’t appear to exist. The name of the group, moreover, seems to be a rip-off of the Texas Democratic Trust, a prominent independent group that’s helped bring the Texas Democratic Party back from the dead (and whose efforts I profiled here).
It’s unclear who’s behind the scheme, but Democrats are convinced that Republicans or conservative activists are responsible. “This is pretty classic in Texas,” Democratic consultant Matt Angle, head of the Texas Democratic Trust, tells Mother Jones. Angle recalls a similar incident in 2008, when black activists in Houston and Dallas were receiving emails that voting for Obama would mean voting for a straight-party ticket. “They’ve gone back to low-tech now,” he adds.
Angle says that Texas Democrats now plan to enlist African-American leaders to do robo-calls in the area “to make sure that people understand that [the flyers] are bogus.” The danger of such misinformation campaigns is that they tend to crop up at the very last minute, before there’s much time to get the correct information out to voters.
Reports of election shenanigans have been plaguing the Houston area throughout the early voting period. The Department of Justice is currently investigating complaints that poll watchers have been harassing and “hovering over” voters in Houston—accusations of GOP-led voter intimidation that have also cropped up in North Carolina, among other places where conservative activists have launched an all-out voter fraud crusade.