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Texan Tea Party Group Accused of “Hovering Over” Voters

Jenny Chen |
October 20, 2010 | 5:05 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)
Poll watchers allegedly intimidated voters in Harris County, Texas when early voting began on Monday. 

The King Street Patriots, a Harris County tea party group that has launched an aggressive anti-voter fraud drive, has been accused of “hovering over” voters, “getting into election workers’ faces,” blocking lines of voters, and talking to them, which is prohibited. 

The county received 14 complaints from 11 voting locations, primarily from predominantly minority regions, including Kashmere Gardens, Moody Park, and Sunnyside

The Harris County Democratic Party was quick to blame the King Street Patriots and their initiative “True the Vote,” an effort to minimize voter fraud. Harris County Democratic Chairman Gerry Birnberg accused 300 poll watchers supposedly trained by tea party group as the main perpetrators. 

The King Street Patriots have denied allegations saying they don’t have any registered poll watchers since registered poll watchers must be affiliated with a party or a candidate. Birnberg says the tea party group is still training poll watchers

Harris County chief deputy county clerk Kevin Mauzy acknowledged an increase in poll watchers but said they were still “entitled to watch the process.” It has not been confirmed that the King Street Patriots were involved. 

Meanwhile, Harris County Republican Chairman Jared Woodfill is claiming Republican poll watchers were harassed. 

Due to the complaints, federal election monitors have been sent to Harris County to overlook future voting. 

Harris County is the largest county in Texas, with 1.9 million voters and 886 voting precincts. Its size carries a large influence for the Nov. 2 election.

On Monday, the Texas Democratic Party sued the King Street Patriots for monetary reparation for the “1960s-style” voter intimidation. They also expanded a lawsuit to include the King Street Patriots as part of the alleged collusion between the Green Party and Republicans.

The Texans of Public Justice also accused the King Street Patriots of donating money, which is prohibited under Texan law from a nonprofit corporation.  

Reach reporter Jenny Chen here.

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