If Politicians Wanted To End Voter Fraud, They'd Clean House

State Representative Debbie Riddle (R – 150) loves the word ‘integrity.’ She was also a big supporter of recent Bill HB 16, which would have required Texas voters to present proof of identification. “Y’see, that’s very important because the very freedom of our nation is based on the integrity of our ballot box,” she said. “And if things are so lax that fraudulent voting can occur, then that means your vote can be stolen. And when that’s done, your voice is silenced.”

But Rep. Riddle herself has indulged in voter fraud on multiple occasions, voting for her absent colleagues in the House, thus silencing their voice, and by extension, the voices of anyone who’s ever voted for them.

In May, 2007, the CBS 42 Investigates program ran a video showing Texas state legislators voting multiple times on a single bill – casting votes for absent colleagues, in blatant violation of House rules. The official House rules state that “Any member found guilty by the House of knowingly voting for another member on the voting machine shall be subject to discipline deemed appropriate by the House.” When asked about such fraudulent voting by state legislators, the spokesperson for Speaker of the House Tom Craddick – whose job is to make sure rules are followed – simply shrugged her shoulders and dismissed it as unimportant. CBS 42 could not find a single instance where lawmakers had been ever been disciplined for voting more than once. Apparently “appropriate” is another word like “integrity” that must mean something different in Texas than it does elsewhere.

You might think this is just the usual Republican driven chicanery, but sadly, no. While Republicans are busy casting votes for their Republican colleagues, Democrats play catch-up scrambling around desks to vote for their colleagues as well. Sometime, this multiple voting cuts across party lines – Republican Will Hartnett can be seen reaching across an empty desk to vote for Democrat Rene Oliveira. Democrat Jim McReynolds votes for Republican Kirk England, and Republican John Davis votes for Democrat Rick Noriega. Whether or not they voted in the manner their absent colleagues may have wished is unknown, but it’s unlikely. Winning or losing in the Texas legislature seems more about who happens to be there to play musical chairs than any valid political position on a bill.

While the legislature is broadcast on cable television, voters have no idea this is happening, because the cameras conveniently cut away when it’s time for lawmakers to vote, effectively hiding their behaviour from all but the handful of capitol visitors watching from the third floor gallery. Debbie “it’s all about integrity” Riddle has lamely attempted to explain away such transgressions as being “necessary.”

“We have a lot of amendments. We don’t have lunch breaks, dinner breaks, restroom breaks.”

Really? Then where are all your missing colleagues?

Voter fraud was a big issue in this election. And to be fair, this video is nearly five years old. I did invite both the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Republican Party to comment on whether or not anything was ever done since that video was broadcast on CBS 42, but so far... *crickets.* So I rather suspect not.

With all the fear-mongering this election about voter fraud, it seems we have more to fear from our duly elected politicians’ underhanded scheming than anything done by ordinary citizens.

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