Fire Destroyed All 10,000 Texas Harris County Voting Machines: Accident or Arson?

Harris Country should use Hand-Counted Ballots in 2010. Photo Credit: I'm so serious today by akk_rus on flickr cc

Voter Suppression Brought to New Heights in Texas

Glenn W. Smith at Huffpost uncovered a doctored photo posted at King Street Patriots, a right-wing tea-party organization trying to defame the nonpartisan organization “Houston Votes.”

King Street Patriots doctored photo of woman with photoshopped message

The real handwritten message before changed by Truethevote

The full message seen in original photo: "Don't Mess with Our Vote."

Smith shows a photo of a black woman holding a sign that was photoshopped for a video posted by King Street Patriots. The video is now “private.” You can only watch it if you “friend” this You-Tube site. Originally the black woman in a rally against voter suppression tactics during the 2000 election held a hand-written sign that said, “Don’t Mess with Our Vote.” However someone who created the video for King Street Patriots changed those words to “I only got to vote once.”

True the Vote and King Street Patriots are doing a classic voter suppression tactic by attacking “Houston Votes,” an organization trying to help people register to vote, regardless of party affiliation. The stakes are high because the governorship of Texas is up for grabs between Republican Rick Perry and challenger, Democrat and former mayor of Houston, Bill White.

As Smith points out, it is more than a little suspicious that all 10,000 voting machines in the Harris Country warehouse suddenly caught fire at about 4:00 am in the morning of August 27th. The three alarm fire occurred the same day that Houston Votes released a press release regarding voter suppression tactics in Harris County, Texas.

The New York Times reported about the Harris County fire that destroyed all of the county’s voting machines on September 11, 2010.

Dirty Politics Again for 2010?

The voter suppression and voter fraud issues surfacing in Texas elections show that many people are concerned about the outcome of the upcoming 2010 November election. The question is:

What really caused the blaze that destroyed all voting machines? Was is it an accident or was it arson?

Why is it that most of the time an organization tries to register minorities or democrats, there is an opposing organization that accuses it of voter fraud?

By demonizing these organizations, as ACORN was demonized with edited videos, there once again seems to be a deliberate attempt to stop voter registration for minorities and democrats.

Truthiness in Voter Suppression Tactics

Words like “Truth” and” True” appeal to most people. However, deceptive advertisers in any type of campaign can use these words to confuse people.

Voter Suppression Tactics in Harris County in 2008: Is it happening Again in 2010?

Houston Registrar falsely claims rampant voter fraud (2008)

An example is when right-wing organizations like King Street Patriots and True the Vote use “True” and getting to the “truth” as keywords for their mission statements. The problem is that these folks have a strange idea of “truth” because they participated in doctoring a photo of people holding up Gore/Lieberman signs in 2000 which were photoshopped to “I’m with stupid” to accuse Houston Votes of voter fraud.

Will the average voter be smart enough to see through the lies perpetrated by these well-funded organizations? Where is the major media to get at the heart of this story?

Deception ≠ Truth: Photo Fraud by King Street Patriots

As Glenn Smith said on his blog posting on Huff Post:

Because their real intent — as it has been for similar voter suppression efforts for decades — is to create barriers between the ballot box and the voters. They want to suppress the vote of people they suspect of opposing their agenda. In this case, as in most, that means assaulting the voting rights of the poor and minorities.

What can be done to stop the lies perpetrated by these organizations like King Street Patriots and True the Vote funded by people with megabucks?

As Glenn W. Foster writes in his peace on about Contempt for Democracy Attacks on Voting Rights:

Of course, they say they just want fair and open elections. “It’s really about truth,” says King Street founder Catherine Engelbrecht in an 8-minute video that includes doctored images and phony charges of “fraud” against…well, you only see pictures of African-Americans when fraud is discussed, so the implication is clear.


Their lies betray their real goal: to limit the voting rights of their political opponents. Let me detail one of their lies. They claim repeatedly that in Houston, six people are registered to a vacant lot. The claim is the symbolic center of their phony accusations of voter fraud.

King Street Patriots appears to be connected to the national right-wing network funded by the notorious Koch brothers. Jane Mayer’s recent piece on them in the New Yorker should be mandatory reading. I think the voter intimidation and suppression campaigns in 2010 will be better funded and more organized than ever before. And I think the best way to discredit them is to expose their lies.

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