Civil Rights Attorneys Fight Election Fraud

Hundreds of African-American lawyers are in Houston this week for the Annual Convention of the National Bar Association. Among the hot-button issues this year is voter and election fraud. Bill Stamps tell us how some people will do anything to win an election.
"It was Dallas...right outside of Dallas."

When it comes to election fraud, Civil Rights Attorney Barbara Arnwhine has seen scams that are just downright ridiculous.

"It's a true story in Texas they pretended like they weren't open...and they were letting the whites in and telling the blacks they weren't open."

She's talking about minority voters being turned away by precinct workers at the polls.

"And then they said 'why are the white people going in?' And they said 'oh that's because it's a club meeting'." (laughs).


Considering this is 2008 and not 1968, the story seems so far fetched you can't help but laugh, but this is not joke it really happened.

"One of the problems we encountered in 2003 is where an entity put a flier out saying don't let blacks steal another election. And it says we all know blacks get paid cigarettes and five dollar bills to cast votes. You know that kind of nasty stereotypes are just out there and we have to fight it all the time."

Arnwhine says most of the complaints they receive have to do with voting machines. But there have also been reports of people being told they're not registered, even though they may have registered before the deadline.

Hassan Solomon a Labor and Employment Lawyer says many time that happens by accident when volunteer groups sign up thousands of people at once.

"Some of these groups may have registered twenty-thousand-ten thousand voters. So they're dropping off ten thousand to twenty-thousand cards at County Board of Elections, and they only have a month to process these cards. In a lot of cases they don't process them in time."

Both Arwine and Solomon are in Houston this week for the Annual Convention of Black Lawyers. While they're still working on their game plan for the upcoming election, Arwhine believes most of the country's voting problems can be solved by EDR.

"Election day registration. Same day registration is the key for America. It makes a big difference because voters know if they show up at the polls they will be able to vote. If you moved, you still can re-register. If you've never been registered you can register."

This November Arwhine wants all people to have the same voting opportunities regardless of what color they are. So if you see people walking into your polling precinct, but the worker tells you they're closed — she says you might want to do some investigating.

Bill Stamps. KUHF Houston Public Radio News.