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Texas Civil Rights Project reports multiple instances of harassment and intimidation at the polls

Early voting begins in Texas
PAUL RATJE/REUTERS
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People cast their votes on voting machines inside the El Paso County Courthouse as early voting begins for the upcoming midterm elections in El Paso, Texas, U.S., October 24, 2022. REUTERS/Paul Ratje

Reports of voter intimidation in Texas are unusually egregious this election, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project.

The group is hearing from voters experiencing harassment at the polls.

Christina Beeler, voting rights staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, said there have also been multiple reports of intimidation during early voting across the state.

“In Travis County, we received a very alarming report about a precinct chair of the Travis County Republican Party knocking on people's doors, accusing them of illegally voting by mail even though the people we spoke with were clearly eligible to vote by mail,” she said.

In Tarrant County, some voters are receiving letters saying there is a voter integrity investigation underway.

"Those letters are very concerning," she said. "These efforts seem to be motivated by right wing conspiracy theories around stolen elections."

Under Texas’ new voting law, which went into effect in December, poll watchers must undergo mandatory training. It’s currently an online course through the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. Advocates say that’s not enough.

There has also been voter harassment in Dallas County that appears to be racially motivated, according to Beeler.

“He was a Black voter and he said that an election worker told him that he needed to give him his cell phone and his smart watch in order to go into vote," she said. "And meanwhile, there are white voters going in and out who are not being asked to give over their phone and who are not being asked to give their smart watch.”

That election worker was identified and was reprimanded.

Beeler said there are reports of troubling behavior by partisan poll watchers – including wearing MAGA hats inside the polls. But because of new voting laws in Texas, it’s now more difficult to remove poll watchers who are breaking the rules.

If you experience voter intimidation and would like to report it – call or text the Texas Civil Rights Project’s hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi