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Congresswoman Warns DOJ of Tea Party Voter Intimidation

October 29, 2010

Armed New Black Panther Party members standing outside of a polling location during the 2008 election might not have raised suspicions of voter intimidation from Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, but, according to one U.S. Congresswoman, peaceful tea partiers should.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, has asked the DOJ to investigate tea party groups for “intimidating black and Hispanic voters” in her district.  Politico reports:

Jackson Lee has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to send poll monitors to her district on Nov. 2 to make sure the King Street Patriots, a local conservative voter turnout and tea party group, aren’t stopping people from voting.

“Many of these incidents of voter intimidation have been occurring in predominately minority neighborhoods and have been directed at African-Americans and Latinos,” she said in the letter. “It is unconscionable to think that anyone would deliberately employ the use of such forceful and intimidating tactics in 2010 to undermine the fundamental, constitutional right to vote.”

“I urge you to order an immediate investigation into these incidents and call for the Department of Justice to send poll monitors to Harris County immediately to ensure a safe and neutral voting environment during the Nov. 2 election,” Jackson Lee wrote.

In response to Jackson Lee’s accusations, the King Street Patriots and its True the Vote citizen volunteer program also sent a letter to the DOJ to ask for federal election monitors to help watch the polls on election day.

Jackson Lee herself was accused to illegal electioneering at a polling place last week. According to reports, the congresswoman entered the Acres Home Multiservice Community Center, but instead of going to her office on a different floor, Jackson Lee walked in to where voting booths were located and personally greeted voters. At some point, presiding election judge Bernard Gurski reportedly asked Ms. Jackson Lee to leave.  Dr. Melissa Clouthier writes:

[T]he source, a poll watcher, went into the room housing the voting booths and there stood Congresswoman Lee shaking hands with voters and greeting others–clearly electioneering. The poll watcher then went to one of the clerks and asked the presiding judge to take care of it.

While this occurred, the poll watcher heard Lee loudly say to the crowd in the voting area,”I’ve heard a lot of complaints about voter intimidation by poll watchers. I am not going to allow voter intimidation.”

The poll watcher started writing the incident down.

Lee then went to the poll watcher and asked,”What’s your name? Who do you represent?”

A poll watcher is not allowed to speak in the polling area, so directed Congresswoman Lee to the presiding judge. The poll watcher said that Congresswoman Lee indicated that she wanted names to report to the Department of Justice for voter intimidation.

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