November 04, 2022

Seniors Send Urgent Letter to Texas Secretary of State Asking for Information on How to Avoid Criminal Investigation While Working on Election Day

Austin, Texas – The Alliance of Retired Americans and its Texas Chapter delivered a letter to Texas Secretary of State John Scott today regarding the enforcement of a law which makes it a crime for an Election Day worker to take “any action to obstruct the view of a watcher or distance the [poll] watcher from the activity or procedure to be observed in a manner that would make observation not reasonably effective.”

Despite the fact that this standard is vague and subjective, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune reported that election workers across Texas have been investigated for violating this law. Good faith disputes over, for example, whether a partisan observer is harassing a voter could seemingly escalate into a criminal investigation.

“The right to vote and have that ballot counted is sacred,” said Gene Lantz, President of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans. “Our elections would not function without the work of thousands of election workers who do their best to help people cast their votes safely.”

“The Texas Secretary of State must tell all election workers what specific actions would put them at risk of investigation and prosecution immediately,” Lantz continued. “Several of our members regularly serve as election workers. These older Texans do this work out of a sincere desire to support the democratic process and should not fear prosecution for actions they did not know were illegal.”

The letter requests, by Monday morning, delivery from the Secretary of State’s office “any written advice or training materials that [Secretary Scott’s] office has provided to local election administrators.”

The letter also requests guidance on what conduct is prohibited by this law, along with any guidance the Secretary of State’s office has received from the Texas Attorney General regarding the enforcement of this section of the election code, stating, “The Alliance believes its members, who are performing a public service out of a commitment to our democracy, should have the benefit of the guidance that your office and the Attorney General has created so they can avoid potential criminal acts.”

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Contact: David Blank, dblank@retiredamericans.org

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