By Greg Moses
Editor, Texas Civil Rights Review
Republican attorney Andy Taylor set out to prove that illegal and fraudulent voter behaviors were the main reasons behind the November election defeat of long-time incumbent Talmadge Heflin in the race for Texas House District 149. But according to archives of original documents that he submitted in support of his case, Taylor willfully ignored exculpatory evidence that showed a number of voters were more likely victims, not perpetrators of wrongdoing.
Several voters of Nigerian descent discovered when they tried to vote in the Heflin-Vo race, that they had been fraudulently re-registered into a neighboring House District without their knowledge. Sometime in late 2003, someone had submitted new registrations for these voters, placing them into a House district that would soon involve a candidate of Nigerian descent. The candidate lost to an incumbent in the Democratic primary election.
During public hearings in the Heflin-Vo election contest, attorney Taylor argued that these African-American votes in the Heflin-Vo race should be ruled illegal because they were cast in a House District other than where the voters were registered.
As we reported earlier this week, anyone with access to the original documents in the Heflin-Vo election contest (including attorney Andy Taylor who submitted the docs in the first place) would have been able to plainly read the explanation that “fraudulent addresses” for voters of Nigerian descent were allegedly submitted by a candidate in a neighboring district. In fact, the assertion was twice stated in handwritten explanations on provisional ballots submitted by a husband-wife pair of voters.
The provisional ballots were approved by Harris County election officials who accepted that the voters should be considered as properly registered. And legislative Master of Discovery Will Hartnett (R-Dallas) also ruled the ballots to be legal. Hartnett explained in the election hearing that he had taken the time to call up one of the voters and discuss the predicament.
While it appeared to someone viewing the hearing that Hartnett was being exceedingly perceptive in his discovery of the fraudulent pattern, in fact he was just reading what was plainly written, not once but twice, on the evidence submitted by the lead attorney for Talmadge Heflin. This plainly stated explanation, which was accepted by Harris County officials, never stopped Heflin nor his attorneys from trying to suppress the votes of these African-American voters nevertheless, along with their votes for Hubert Vo.
The significance of this finding is that Andy Taylor continued to pursue allegations in a public hearing that a number of Nigerian-American voters (4-9 cases according to my preliminary estimate) had cast illegal ballots, even as he placed exculpatory evidence on the record that plainly indicated they were victims not perpetrators of fraud.
Andy Taylor’s double bad faith counts as a Civil Rights infringement in two ways. First, it was an effort to criminalize voters of color by deliberately overlooking exculpatory evidence on the record. Second, it counts as a bad faith effort to overturn the election of a candidate of color. Going after voters of African descent in an effort to unseat a candidate of Vietnamese descent, accusing all parties of fraud when your own evidence indicates they have done nothing wrong, this is offensive, outrageous, indecent, and should cost Andy Taylor his license to practice law in Texas.