When Republicans decided to team up with the tea party to resurrect their crusade against voter fraud, voting rights advocates worried that the GOP would end up intimidating eligible voters. Though the election is still two weeks away, reports of voter intimidation have already begun to surface during the early voting that's begun this week in many states. In the Houston area, the Harris County Attorney is investigating 14 complaints that early voters from predominantly minority areas were intimidated at the polls. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is interviewing witnesses about the alleged voter intimidation, TPM Muckracker reports. According to the Houston Chronicle:
The complaints included poll watchers "hovering over" voters, "getting into election workers' faces" and blocking or disrupting lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots...
Kevin Mauzy, chief deputy county clerk, said more poll watchers than usual showed up during the first day of early voting, and their numbers may have made some voters uneasy…Janie Reyes, who voted in Moody Park, said she witnessed poll watchers carrying on conversations with voters and clerks. "As I understand it, they're not supposed to be talking," she said.
Tensions around voter integrity are riding high in Harris County, where a nonprofit linked with a local tea party group, the King Street Patriots, accused voting rights organization Houston Votes of illegally registering 17,000 new voters. (Houston Votes admitted there was a small handful of incorrectly registered voters, but denies perpetrating massive fraud.) The most populated part of Texas, Harris County is also a key base of support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White, the former mayor of Houston who's locked in a tight race against incumbent Rick Perry.