STATEMENT OF PROGRESSNOW NM ON NEWS THAT CONGRESS EXPANDS VOTER SUPPRESSION INVESTIGATION INTO NEW MEXICO
Albuquerque – ProgressNow New Mexico’s Executive Director Pat Davis issues this statement on the news that a Congressional committee has expanded its investigation into voter suppression into New Mexico after ProgressNow NM exposed improper training of poll challengers by a GOP official and improper coordination between the party and non-profit True The Vote.
“We thank Congressman Cummings for recognizing the important challenge efforts like those we exposed, and others exposed across the country, are having on our elections. This is welcome news coming on the heels of Attorney General King’s announcement of a similar investigation announced last week.
Though Congressman Pearce has said he endorses these illegal tactics, we encourage the rest of our congressional delegation to stand up for fair elections and support this important inquiry.
We also continue to implore Governor Martinez, as our state’s highest ranking elected Republican, to repudiate these tactics and support these investigations, especially now that voters have already begun voting.”
ProgressNow New Mexico made national news when it released secretly recorded video of a Republican party official training poll challengers in illegal voter challenge techniques. The video has been viewed more than 50,000 times. Just days later, we returned to another training session and were denied entry by True The Vote’s state leader telling us, on tape, that the training was only open to Republicans. Non-profit organizations, like True The Vote, are not permitted to work on a partisan basis.
We contacted Cong. Cummings office and shared these videos after learning of his investigation. Cummings specifically cites ProgressNowNM’s work as justification for expanding the investigation.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King announced an investigation into voter suppression in New Mexico after we released these videos.
Despite these investigations, True The Vote released additional training videos this past weekend. They continue to teach improper poll challenger tactics to participants.
A copy of the Congressional News Release is included below.
From: Oversight Committee Democrats Press Office
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 12:13 PM
To: Oversight Committee Democrats Press Office
Subject: RELEASE: Cummings Ramps Up Investigation of Voter Suppression Allegations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Ashley Etienne
October 18, 2012 (202) 226-5181
Cummings Ramps Up Investigation of Voter Suppression Allegations
Calls on True the Vote to Produce Documents on
Plan to Challenge Voters on Election Day
Washington, DC (Oct. 18)-Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a new letter to Catherine Engelbrecht, President and Founder of True the Vote, requesting documents relating to the group’s plan to deploy hundreds of thousands of personnel across the country on Election Day to challenge access to the polls for people they believe should not be allowed to vote.
“There have been reports from multiple states during the past two years that your organization is targeting predominantly minority communities and coordinating with the Republican Party in an attempt to intimidate legitimate voters,” wrote Cummings.
Cummings’ letter follows a previous letter on October 4, 2012, requesting documents relating to allegations that True the Vote and its affiliated organizations have been challenging the registration of thousands of legitimate voters across the country based on insufficient, inaccurate, and faulty evidence. Cummings’ letter notes that True the Vote has declined to produce a single document.
“If you are truly committed to transparency in our nation’s voting process-and if you continue to deny that your organization is challenging thousands of legitimate voters across the country for partisan political purposes-then you should have no reason to withhold documents from Congress about your activities,” wrote Cummings.
Cummings’ letter details new information raising questions about whether True the Vote is hiding its true agenda. For example, after a report was issued last week documenting how the group is deploying personnel in predominantly African American and Hispanic communities in North Carolina, True the Vote appears to have shut down access to its internal website about where its personnel will be deployed on Election Day.
Cummings’ letter also provides new information about voter suppression allegations in Texas in 2010. Contrary to claims by True the Vote that there were no instances of voter intimidation, Harris County Senior Assistant County Attorney Doug Ray reported to Cummings’ staff that “King Street Patriots and True the Vote volunteers were notfully exonerated for acts of intimidation while serving as poll watchers in 2010.”
Ray said “there were in fact several incidents in which voters complained that True the Vote volunteers were ‘hovering,’ and standing too close to voters to allow them to cast a confidential ballot.” When Ray visit
ed True the Vote’s offices in Harris County, he found maps on the wall with push pins indicating that the polling places True the Vote was targeting were primarily in minority precincts.
Cummings’ letter also raises new questions about “mounting evidence” that True the Vote is coordinating closely with Republicans. It cites financial contributions to the Republican State Leadership Committee, admissions by Engelbrecht that she is working to supply the Republican Party with volunteers, and reports that True the Vote officials in New Mexico are conducting secret voter training programs that exclude Democratic volunteers.
Cummings asked Engelbrecht to provide documents by October 31, 2012, relating to where True the Vote is targeting its personnel, voter roll lists that it plans to use to challenge voter eligibility, and materials the organization uses to train its volunteers.