Texas City resident Patricia Washington had the right response to an intimidating robocall meant to keep her from voting — she got mad and resolved to exercise her sacrosanct right and duty as a U.S. citizen to cast a ballot.

It’s clear that obscure forces are at work even in Galveston County with misinformation, disinformation and intimidation campaigns meant to suppress voter turnout.

Clear also is that the best counter for those decidedly low, rotten and un-American efforts is to turn whatever emotion they inspire into motivation to go vote.

Efforts to blunt voter turnout are vile. Every American should denounce them and be outraged by them, but also see them for what they are — expressions of fear in the hearts of their sponsors — fear of the people, fear of democracy.

Those of us who get worked up about these sorts of un-American activities might find some release in this exercise: If you haven’t voted, go vote. Take that cotton swab poll workers are issuing for this pandemic election and imagine each time you cast a vote jamming it up one nostril of the person you think is behind the tricks.

Some of the techniques being used to confuse and intimidate voters are relatively new.

The phone call Washington received warned there was a warrant out for her arrest, so she shouldn’t go vote.

She knew that wasn’t true, and the call left her determined to cast a ballot, she told The Daily News on Tuesday.

“It just got me all nerved up,” she said.

Similarly, Galveston resident Bert Feinman received a text message with misinformation about voting.

“If you are a U.S. citizen, you will need to provide a certified U.S. state-issued birth certificate, U.S. passport or a certificate of naturalization,” it said.

Out of those items, only a passport actually would be acceptable and there are several other valid forms of identification, including a driver’s license and state- issued ID, acceptable at the polls.

Feinman knew immediately the message was untrue, so she ignored it, she said. Feinman already had voted.

“I’m kind of surprised they did it in Galveston,” she said.

Law enforcement agencies across the country have reported and, in some cases, charged people in connection to instances of voter intimidation and misinformation via robocalls and text messages.

The uptick in such cases coincides with a tumultuous election season and an increasingly polarized electorate.

Such calls are a clear violation of federal law prohibiting voter intimidation and should be referred to law enforcement, said Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida.

Similar calls have been reported in other states during early voting, McDonald added.

Two conservative operatives this month, for instance, were charged in connection with false robocalls that aimed to dissuade Black residents in Detroit and other Democratic-leaning cities from voting by mail, according to The Associated Press.

The calls falsely warned residents if they vote by mail in the Nov. 3 election they could be subject to arrest, debt collection and forced vaccination, according to The Associated Press.

As outrageous as all that is, there’s more good news than bad, at least so far.

These attempts at voter suppression are tepid compared to the official methods such as poll taxes and literacy tests employed by governments themselves in the bad old days before the Voting Rights Act.

There’s room to argue about whether the governments involved locally in this election have done everything possible to promote voting.

Gov. Greg Abbott added an extra week to early voting, which was a great service to voters.

He wouldn’t, however, allow counties to operate more than one place for voters to hand-deliver mail-in ballots.

Abbott’s orders banning poll workers from requiring voters to wear masks was a murky issue with valid arguments on both sides. But a federal judge Tuesday ruled that contrary to Abbott’s order, poll workers could require masks.

The practice in Texas of attempting to match signatures on absentee ballots inspires uncertainty among voters and is just practically dubious, as anyone who has signed anything more than once must attest to if he’s being honest.

On the other hand, Galveston County is operating plenty of polling places and is offering services such as curbside voting for people worried about COVID-19.

The best news is that whatever the split on steps to blunt and steps to promote voting, people are going to the polls in robust numbers. It’s possible that by the time this hits the stands, the number of people who’ve voted early in this election will exceed the total number who voted in 2016.

We encourage every eligible, registered voter who has not voted to follow the example of Patricia Washington, that fine American who lives in Texas City.

“If I have to put on two masks, I’m going,” she said.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com


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(20) comments

Pete Nanos

This editorial sure has the markings of a political hack. Who would go to all the trouble to look up and call only certain people? How do they know what political party they are associated with? How do they know that they are not crossover votes? Why are there so few calls verified before printing such "news"? Why are only conservatives listed as being arrested? This is not only NOT newsworthy, it has an odor to it.

Jim Forsythe

Pete, it is easy to find a persons party. Some states have primaries that require you to vote for one party, Texas is one. These list are easy to get. If one wants a list, other ways can also be used to get names.

One of the big sources of robocalls that discouraged voters is from the team of Jacob Woh and Jack Burkman that target Democrats'. If you look hard enough, you may find groups targeting Republicans'.

Michigan's attorney general filed felony charges Thursday against two far-right activists who allegedly coordinated a series of racist robocalls that discouraged voters in Detroit and other cities from participating in the November election. Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl are each being charged with four felony counts, including intimidating voters and conspiracy to commit an election law violation.

Consistent with their stated intentions, Defendants are engaged in a coordinated and calculated effort to interfere with the voting rights of lawfully registered voters in violation of numerous federal

The same people that were charged in Michigan, are defendants

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. https://lawyerscommittee.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/COMPLAINT-FINAL-filed.pdf

Defendant Jacob Wohl is a resident of Los Angeles, California. Defendant Jack Burkman is a resident of Arlington, Virginia.

Pete Nanos

Sorry Jim, but I don't accept that this is somehow a widespread problem, but I do accept that the left will be stuffing ballot boxes. Requiring someone to vote some way in a primary doesn't mean your personal information is given out or readily available. If it's that easy to get, call me when you get my phone number. If you do get it, please tell me how easy it was and then multiply that times how many people you think were actually called.

Jim Forsythe

Pete, you went to Went to P------- High School Class of 1965 .

I have your phone number, but I will not call it. If I was one that want to scam you or harass you I would use a program to ghost my phone number and make you think it came from someone else.

Pete, all kinds of private info on people like you and me is available for people to use and steal.

The DMV will provide all kinds of list for a small fee.

Your phone number is floating on the internet for anyone that wants to use it.

A group that wanted to do mass phone calls, can buy a list at a small cost or they can use software that will make any list that you want.

I spent less than 5 minutes finding your phone number and if I was going to use it for robocalls ,I would be using programs to harvest phone numbers and not look up each number myself.

Pete, what is scary is that programs these people are using now extract phone number's at a high rate and plug right in to the robocall machine without any personal having to do anything until they get a hot call that has someone willing to talk to them.

"Mobile phone spammers have recently released a new version of a well known phone number harvesting tool, whose main objective is to crawl the public Web and index mobile phone numbers, which will later be used for various malicious and fraudulent purposes".

Carlos Ponce

Jim must have missed my earlier post:

"Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement that “the source of the [robo]call is still unknown.”"

And you fail to mention Michigan's Attorney General, Dana Nessel, has had a Federal civil rights lawsuit filed against her. Why? She is using her office to target what the George Soros-funded Southern Poverty Law Center labels as "hate groups" according to an Op-Ed in the Detroit News.

"The George Soros-funded SPLC has for years dishonestly and falsely labeled its political opponents as 'hate groups' based on their conservative (typically Christian and Jewish) views in an effort to marginalize them and the work they do."

And you failed to mention:

"U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker accused Attorney General Dana Nessel of “a targeted attack on a sincerely held religious belief.”

“What St. Vincent has not done and will not do is give up its traditional Catholic belief that marriage as instituted by God is for one man and one woman,” wrote Jonker.

What did AG Nessel do? She terminated Michigan contracts with St. Vincent Catholic Charities because of the Catholic Church's stance on adoption by same sex couples which violates the free -exercise clause of the first Amendment of the US Constitution.

Bailey Jones

[thumbup] Everyone needs to get out and vote. And everyone who believes in our democracy needs to support every voter.

Carlos Ponce

And everyone needs to accept the results of an honest election. So you Liberal, don't go crazy when Trump's re-election is announced.

Bill Broussard

St. Carlos. Vice President Biden has already said he would accept. Meanwhile, at least in Texas, courts are busy declining republican move to overthrow dive in voting and have the votes of good people who voted in good faith thrown out

Ya know, if you were in the crowd that great day over two thousand years ago, you would have been the only person to pick up a stone and throw it at that poor woman. At what age did you discover you could walk on water?

Michael great editorial

Bailey Jones

I've only heard one person question the outcome of our electoral process - and he's an idiot. Two, if you count his dog.

Carlos Ponce

You have a dog???

Keith Gray

I support every American citizen's right to vote.

James Lippert

One day till Election Day. Get out and VOTE!

Ted Gillis

Donald Trump claims that he will declare himself the winner on election night, if a clear winner is not called by the networks. Heck, if that’s the method for candidate to use, then Hillary Clinton should have called herself the winner on election night in 2916, because Trymp was not called winne

Carlos Ponce

"Donald Trump claims that he will declare himself the winner on election night, if a clear winner is not called by the networks." FAKE NEWS.

Real News: Donald Trump will claim victory when the number of Electoral votes is confirmed to show he won.

Ted, I suggest you vet the source of your post. They're clowning you, man!

Carlos Ponce

"Hillary Clinton should have called herself the winner on election night in 2916."

Would Americans vote for a 969 year old?

Dalton Logan

Ted, I can see now why you are a Biden supporter, you understand each other.[innocent]

Bailey Jones

I wonder if #worstpresidentever is even capable of making that concession phone call.

"Yeah, Joe, this is Donald, it looks like you've managed to get enough fake ballots to win. That's OK, I didn't want to win anyway, I've got so much money and so many golf courses I'm the real winner here. By the way, I pooped in your desk."

Carlos Ponce

Trump is going to win. Announcement will be made November 4. Please don't do anything crazy.

So sad to express themselves, Liberals will go about burning, looting mostly minority owned or operated businesses. Then following the inauguration in January, the Chinese will saber rattle threatening war because their man Big Guy Joe did not get in after all the money pored into the Biden family and their attempts to influence the 2020 election.

Ted Gillis

.......winner until early the next morning.

Ted Gillis

I apologize for my thumbs. I was on a shuttle bus while trying to type, when we encountered one of Sylvester’s pot holes!

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