Elderly Black Voters Allegedly Intimidated At Their Homes In Texas

October 29, 2010 12:19 p.m.

Two middle-aged white Republican activists in Texas allegedly harassed and intimidated at least seven elderly African-American voters at their homes in eastern Texas, according to a complaint filed with the Justice Department on Thursday.

Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, submitted a report to DOJ alleging that two unidentified women visited elderly African-American voters at their homes in Bowie County and questioned them about their mail-in ballot applications, Mother Jones first reported.The women allegedly showed up to 78-year-old Willard Wherry’s home and asked him who had helped him fill in his mail-in ballot. “We are just trying to be sure no one is trying to coax someone to vote,” one of the woman allegedly told Willard. Other individuals who were allegedly visited by the women were also listed on the complaint.

A GOP candidate for Bowie County Clerk, Natalie Nichols, also allegedly threatened a Bowie County elections official due to her concerns over mail-in ballot fraud.

Lacey Golden, the elections official, said in a statement that Nichols came into the office on Oct. 15 and asked if Golden had verified the signatures on the envelopes of mail-in ballots and grew aggressive.

“I feel she personally threatened me and severely invaded by personal space,” Golden wrote. “She told me I was committing fraud by letting that happen, and she had called the [Secretary of State] about it already.”

“I said that we follow the laws and that is the rules we follow. I went to get a file folder for her public info and she followed me and got real close to me and grabbed my arm and told me I better call the SOS to protect myself in a hushed voice,” Golden wrote.

GOP officials deny they were involved in the activity, Mother Jones reported:

Local Republican officials deny any knowledge of or involvement in alleged voter intimidation. Ken Autrey, chair of the Bowie County Republican Party, told Mother Jones that he “was not aware of anyone going to somebody’s home” to check on voters. Autrey says that he had told Steagall, the county elections administrator, that “an unusually high amount of mail ballots had been requested.” But he denied that any GOP officials were involved in an organized effort to combat voter fraud. “We’re focusing on getting our candidates elected–we’re not undergoing any kinds of efforts going after voter fraud,” Autrey says.

Texas has been the location of may anti-voter fraud initiatives that have seemingly been targeted at minority voters. This week, fliers from a fake group which included misleading information were left on the windshields of voters at early voting locations.

Hebert complained about the fliers to the Justice Department, and they are investigating that matter, he said.

Hebert told TPMMuckraker that he feels certain based on conversations that he has had with DOJ that they will be sending watchers to Houston. Those poll watchers will be announced by the Justice Department today.

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