Texas Attorney General's Office Says It Can Toss People In Jail For Suggesting Coronavirus Fears Are A Legit Reason To Vote From Home

from the do-you-want-the-virus-or-jail-time-(which-also-has-the-virus) dept

Just when we need our elected representatives to step up and get their collective shit together, they seem to be disintegrating as quickly as possible. I understand a pandemic isn't on the list of "Things I Expected To Deal With During My Tenure," but this is why we give them so much power and the trust that's implicitly packaged with it.

Not every decision made or mandate handed down needs to be solid gold. But it needs to be much better than what we're getting, which often seems to have been generated by a "COVID response" dartboard filled with ideas that shouldn't have made it past a cursory room read.

Here's the thing about voting: it's important. And it needs to be secure. And, yes, we need to limit voter fraud but that shouldn't be the overriding concern since there's been so little of it observed during the numerous elections we've held in this nation.

Sending voters out to gather in groups at polling places may cut down on fraud and (depending on the vote-taking tech) make things a bit more secure than relying on mail-in votes, but you have to factor in the exposure to a deadly virus -- both for voters and those forced to staff these disease vectors of attack.

The lawyers speaking for the Texas Attorney General's office have issued one of the most tone deaf responses to worried state residents wondering if it might be OK to vote from home this year, given the spread of the virus. (h/t Sam Levine)

The letter [PDF] starts off officially and non-stupidly enough by explaining the letter of the law does not support treating attempts to avoid infection as equivalent to established definitions of disability.

We conclude that, based on the plain language of the relevant statutory text, fear of contracting COVID-19 unaccompanied by a qualifying sickness or physical condition does not constitute a disability under the Election Code for purposes of receiving a ballot by mail.

Fair enough, but given the extraordinary circumstances presented by COVID-19, perhaps the state could relax the definition to keep state residents safe during the upcoming election?

LOL no. That's not what's going to happen. According to the state's counsel, it's far more likely people are going to be treated as criminals for telling others to stay COVID-free by using a mail-in ballot.

Finally, to the extent third parties advise voters to apply for a mail-in ballot based solely on fear of contracting COVID-19, such activity could subject those third parties to criminal sanctions imposed by Election Code section 84.0041. TEX. ELEC. CODE § 84.0041 (providing that a person commits an offense if the person "intentionally causes false information to be provided on an application for ballot by mail"); see also id. § 276.013 (providing that a person commits election fraud if the person knowingly or intentionally causes a ballot to be obtained under false pretenses, or a misleading statement to be provided on an application for ballot by mail).

So, these are your options: tell people to vote in person and risk contracting the virus. Or advise them to dodge the virus by voting from home and go to jail... where you'll risk contracting the virus.

An offense under this section is a state jail felony.

And a state jail felony can net someone anywhere from six months to two years in jail, along with a fine of up to $10,000.

The state's top prosecutor then tries to blunt this threat with a half-assed promise to engage in some prosecutorial discretion.

However, whether specific activity constitutes an offense under these provisions will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each individual case.

Roll the dice, I guess. The state's counsel signs off by noting this is "not the official opinion" of the AG's office, which further adds to the mess being made by this response to a legitimate question. All we know for sure is dodging the corona is not a legal reason to vote by mail, and it may or may not result in criminal charges and jail time if you're telling people it's something they can try. Hopefully, this will be clarified in the near future. And hopefully that clarification will recognize the health risks the state is asking voters to take by threatening to jail them for encouraging voting by mail.

Filed Under: absentee ballots, covid-19, criminal, elections, texas, vote-by-mail, voting


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 2:17am

    'Who cares about lives, the rules are the rules!'

    Ah petty bureaucrats, they don't give a damn if people die but they will be damned if someone doesn't exactly follow whatever the rules are, no matter what the context is.

    However, whether specific activity constitutes an offense under these provisions will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each individual case.

    Sure, and playing russian roulette isn't guaranteed to result in your death, but that doesn't mean doing so isn't an enormous risk. Throwing out that excuse after pointing out that thousands of dollars in fines and jail time is on the table should they feel like charging someone is a laughably weak attempt to downplay the threat that was very clearly made above it. You don't mention possible jail time in response to a question unless you are willing to impose it, or at the very least want people to think that you are willing.

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    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 12:21pm

      Re: 'Who cares about lives, the rules are the rules!'

      As certain people are fond of pointing out, the Constitution is not a suicide pact - therefore if obeying it is suicidal, you have an excuse to break the law and get away unpunished.

      But given how the Constitution is the source of authority for all lesser laws, if the Constitution is not a suicide pact, no lesser law can be either - and it's a federal felony to violate quarantine.

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      • icon
        R.H. (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 2:51pm

        Re: Re: 'Who cares about lives, the rules are the rules!'

        It is against federal law to break a quarantine (42 U.S. Code § 271). However, the nation at large isn't under quarantine, we're under self-isolation, social distancing, and/or stay-at-home orders.

        A person is placed in quarantine if they either have or are believed to have been exposed to some contagion. The current orders are attempting to keep people from being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) but I don't think that any state has attempted to use their powers to issue an actual quarantine yet.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2020 @ 8:07am

      Re: 'Who cares about lives, the rules are the rules!'

      Ah petty bureaucrats, they don't give a damn if people die but they will be damned if someone doesn't exactly follow whatever the rules are, no matter what the context is.

      No, they only care about the law as long as it benefits them to do so. The second the law contradicts a politician's, or their briber's, personal interests then the law is suddenly decrepit, shouldn't be enforced, and in dire need of reform.

      Of course, that's what you get in a political system run by money instead of it's citizenry.

      Sure, and playing russian roulette isn't guaranteed to result in your death, but that doesn't mean doing so isn't an enormous risk. Throwing out that excuse after pointing out that thousands of dollars in fines and jail time is on the table should they feel like charging someone is a laughably weak attempt to downplay the threat that was very clearly made above it. You don't mention possible jail time in response to a question unless you are willing to impose it, or at the very least want people to think that you are willing.

      That wasn't the point here. The point was to discourage Texans from voting period. In any shape or form. Why? Because it's a Hobson's choice. Either vote in person and have it counted (maybe), or vote from home where we'll declare your vote invalid due to it's method of casting, and then throw you in jail. Either way, you'll run the risk of contracting a deadly virus for the high crime of voting. The only safe option is to not vote at all.

      Further proof that the country you live in claims and teaches one ideology, while practicing a completely different one in reality.

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 3:40am

    The GOP figured out how to use COVID-19 as a tool of voter suppression. I can’t fathom what they’ll try to do with that knowledge in November.

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    • identicon
      Damien, 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:08am

      Re:

      They tried that here in Wisconsin. It didn't really work out the way they hoped.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:36am

        That result offers no guarantee of similar results in a nationwide election — especially since Trump already spoke against mail-in voting. Hell, Trump would likely veto any effort to broaden mail-in voting access because he believes he wouldn’t win if he went along with such efforts.

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        • identicon
          kallethen, 21 Apr 2020 @ 9:35am

          Re:

          While I will agree that Trump will do everything he can to limit mail-in voting, each individual state has authority and responsibility for running elections, no?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 10:51am

            Re: Re:

            Yes, that is my understanding also.
            So now Donny is trying to kill the postal service so that no one can mail in ballots. These people will eat a shit sandwich just so that others have to smell it.

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        • identicon
          Bruce C., 21 Apr 2020 @ 9:51am

          Re:

          The federal government has very little it can do to mandate voting mechanisms, other than withholding grant money to the states. States can hold their elections however the heck they want, which is why there are such big discrepancies in the requirements for mail-in voting between them.
          The AG letter is also describing current law. So in theory Texas could pass a law broadening the conditions under which a mail-in/absentee ballot can be accepted. Not that I expect that to happen. Both parties desperately hold onto power wherever they have it.

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          • icon
            CypherDragon (profile), 22 Apr 2020 @ 12:16am

            Re: Re:

            I live in Texas. Paxton and Abbott will do nothing that could possibly threaten their chances of being reelected, Covid be damned! Abbott isn't up for election this year, so he'll stuff his nose so far up Dear Leader's crack that he can smell the hamburders on the way down.

            As I say often, TX is doing well despite Abbott, just as it was despite Gov Goodhair before he decided that TX wasn't enough.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 9:10am

      Re:

      That doesn't make a lot of sense considering Texas is predominantly a Republican state and that party got all 38 electoral votes in 2016 (all but 2 going to Trump).

      But hey, if Republicans in Texas want to suppress their own voters, fine. Go for it. All the Democrats in Texas have to do is take the risk and show up to vote in November for a chance to ensure Trump doesn't get another 4 years to screw up this country. I'd certainly take that risk.

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 12:03pm

      Re:

      Not for nothin', the only time in recent memory where I'm aware of absentee ballots being used for large-scale fraud, it was Republicans doing it.

      "Claim we need to make it harder to vote in order to prevent fraud, and then prove there's a risk by committing fraud" does seem like a pretty standard tactic from the GOP playbook -- the old "say that government doesn't work, then prove it" maneuver.

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    icon
    TheLizard (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:26am

    Ballot harvesting

    Ballot harvesting is the biggest threat to election integrity ever implemented in America.

    And, guess what?

    Advising people to break the law by lying on a government form, is against the law. So the Texas Attorney General's office is simply quoting the law.

    Some people think that "any means necessary" means they can ignore the law. Think again.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:33am

      I fail to see how someone requesting a mail-in ballot because they don’t want to risk catching COVID-19 qualifies as “ballot harvesting”, but hey, keep licking that boot.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:54am

      Re: Ballot harvesting

      Ballot harvesting is the biggest threat to election integrity ever implemented in America.

      I'm sure that someone could possibly put together a task force to investigate election fraud. I'm just spitballing, but maybe we could put Kris Kobach in charge of it so Republicans could feel that it's heading in a proper direction.

      He could investigate the issue intensively to root out all these voter fraud democrats and then provide a summary report to the president, which would prove how right Republicans are about democrats trying to steal elections.

      Oh wait...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Advisory_Commission_on_Election_Integrity

      So rather than share the information with Democrats, Trump himself disbanded the commission. One can only speculate why...And now the investigation is apparently with the DHS. Odd that they have been so silent about it, wouldn't you say?

      So for something that is "the biggest threat to election integrity" I am perplexed why this president, who seems to have an opinion on everything, can't produce something that would show exactly that.

      Care to speculate as to a reason why, other than incompetence or impotence?

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    • icon
      Bloof (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 5:03am

      Re: Ballot harvesting

      Uh huh. Ballot harvesting and not laws put in place by republicans that benefit republican voters, polling place closures throughout democratic leaning districts, again, by republicans, republican officials overseeing elections they're running in, republican judges who've lost elections ploughing ahead with rulings on voter purges, republican gerrymandering states to such a degree halves blue districts are so carefully carved out they run through single properties so democrats can get 60% of the vote and still be in the minority in statehouses, republicans applying voter ID laws in ways designed to disenfranchise native Americans by requiring details that simply don't exist on native lands, republican dark money groups bombarding people with targeted lies, republicans designing laws intended to kill voter registration drives.. Oh but hey, VOTER FRAUD that has been proven by republicans on Trump's very own voter fraud task force not to be a real thing to the extent they claim... That non existent problem is the real problem.

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  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:44am

    Blocking this is win - win for red states, low voter turnout benefits republicans by and large, and if it doesn't pan out as they hope, they can call into question the validity of the results through the courts, and if that fails, they can shamelessly campaign for years accusing the democrat wins of being invalid, because of rules they put in place.

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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 5:57am

    This is an OUTRAGE

    Texas Attorney General's Office Says It Can Toss People In Jail For Suggesting Coronavirus Fears Are A Legit Reason To Vote From Home

    Can't the governor or legislature correct this outrage by removing the last two words?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 7:08am

    Donald tells the truth ... wow, how often does this happen?

    Trump says Republicans would ‘never’ be elected again if it was easier to vote

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      True fact since Democrats like to vote again and again and again as they are bussed from one polling place to another.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2020 @ 8:47am

        Re: Re:

        Of course you will follow up your claim with fact based evidence, right?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 12:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think he may have forgotten the /s tag.

          Then again, you never know. Some republicans may in fact believe that's what democrats do. Because irredeemable evil, or something.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 9:01am

      He lied about that, though I expect more (but not entirely) out of complete ignorance about the idea than intentional malice towards it. Utah has a universal vote-by-mail system (in addition to in-person voting), and that state remains a Republican stronghold. The Utah GOP controls a supermajority of both chambers of the state legislature, the governor’s office, and all but one Congressional seat for the state (a U.S. Representative) across both chambers of Congress.

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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 7:11am

    Two Things

    "...providing that a person commits election fraud if the person knowingly or intentionally causes a ballot to be obtained under false pretenses, or a misleading statement to be provided on an application for ballot by mail"

    The first is, what if the application says 'because I don't want to take the risk of being infected with the Coronavirus at your close quarters voting place' and the ballot is sent anyway. Does that constitute a violation of the law by the voter, or just the people processing the ballots?

    The second is, what if some large percentage of Texas voters do lie on their applications and claim disability for say a hangnail and get the ballot. Is the attorney general will to put more than, say 50% of Texans in jail? I could see him trying to fine them the $10,000, but what would the process do to the court system?

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    • identicon
      rvman, 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:39pm

      Re: Two Things

      "Reason" is a check box. The options are "65 years of age or older", "disability", "Expected absence from the county", and "confinement in jail". It isn't free text.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2020 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re: Two Things

        It isn't free text.

        It's still a paper form, right? Might be worth writing "global pandemic" and seeing what happens.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 7:22am

    Texas is Texas

    As someone who lived in Texas but isn't a native Texan. IMHO, Texans have a unique perspective.

    As for " we need to limit voter fraud but that shouldn't be the overriding concern since there's been so little of it observed during the numerous elections ...", please remember there is a significant difference between "officially" observed and reported fraud and the actual commission of fraud. Also what is the exact definition of voter fraud? Is campaigning within the prohibited zone near the polls voter fraud? I've seen such actions, and Democrats are as prone to this as anyone. To whom is such improper activity reported, will they do something and so on. One report claiming that voter fraud is a minimal problem, doesn't make it so. Like any claim, where is the independent verification?

    Next, "given the extraordinary circumstances presented by COVID-19, perhaps the state could relax the definition". If one wishes to "relax the rules" during "extraordinary circumstances" and the powers-that-be define extraordinary circumstances, then when WON'T there be "extraordinary circumstances"? Why can't the "free speech", "search and seizure" and all the basic rights be "relaxed" by the powers-that-be in their defined "extraordinary circumstances". The ugly truth is that allowing the bureaucrats to "relax the rules" (meaning disregard the law) when they decree "extraordinary circumstances" mean that there will always be "extraordinary circumstances" and that there will be no law, rights or protections. Such a relaxing is nothing but rule by decree.

    If the situation warrants then the Texas legislature and governor can get together, put aside their R/D trash talk and bigotry and make the legislation necessary. To allow bureaucrats to "relax the rules" is to dispose of rule of law altogether. The fundamental rule of human bureaucracy is that each bureaucrat grabs as much power as they can, until the come into conflict with an equal or greater power. Conflict with an equal bureaucrat results in "jockeying" for power. Conflict with a greater power means butt-kissing or being crushed. This has been the rule in human society for millennia. This rule won't change until humans become better than they are.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      One report claiming that voter fraud is a minimal problem, doesn't make it so. Like any claim, where is the independent verification?

      The thing is, nobody has ever been able to find any kind of significant in person voter fraud, and people have tried. If it's really happening so much, why is it so hard to find?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      CypherDragon (profile), 22 Apr 2020 @ 12:26am

      Re:

      One report claiming that voter fraud is a minimal problem, doesn't make it so. Like any claim, where is the independent verification?

      How about like every single study done on voter fraud, ever? This is inclusive of studies funding by both Dems and Repubs, even independent 3rd parties as well. No study, ever, has found any evidence of even small scale voter fraud, let alone at a level that could sway national elections.

      Ignorance of the sheer amount of work that has already been done can be easily rectified by spending even a few minutes Googling and learning. Not that would would expect someone like you to do so, but that information is completely available, much of it for free.

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  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 7:25am

    Colorado has vote by mail... and it isn't pandemonium

    I find it so hilarious at how 'politicized' vote by mail has become. I have literally voted for every election in the last decade by mail in Colorado. I'm not disabled. I'm not doing anything special. I just registered to vote and they ship me all my ballots (local, state, national). No one here is crying foul. No large scale voter fraud schemes have ever been uncovered. Nothing... I swear, some people think this is a "new" idea that we are just going to "try" real quick and "rush" it in to help the libs pwn the reps (even though stats skew the other way... but whatever...). This is a matter of settled fact... Voting by mail is nothing special. Just allow it and quit being partisan for partisan sakes.

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  • icon
    Ed (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 8:01am

    Isn't it obvious by now...

    The GOP are terrorists. They are a direct and present danger to life and should be dealt with as such.

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    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 8:15am

      Re: Isn't it obvious by now...

      Give them enough Hydroxychloroquine (the one for fish tanks, not the malaria medicine) to cure what ails them along with a directive to follow Trump's advice. It should make all the 'fake' new channels, and create some opportunities.

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    icon
    tz1 (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 8:32am

    Handicap Spaces

    If I park in a Handicap parking spot, I will get a ticket. I can't "self-identify" as being disabled, I need a doctor's note. Many states already grant absentee ballots for the elderly without asking further. If someone is in the co-morbidity or otherwise vulnerable, they can get a note. Let me make a proposal that the Democrats will hate, but will fix both problems. We have several months before the election. Lets have everyone provide proof of voter elegibility and be assigned a voter's card FOR FREE which will note the name, address they are voting at, and a few ID things like date of birth, and even provide assistance in obtaining one, maybe combining it with the Census. So we know who is eligible to vote or not. We can bend over backwards to register everyone WHO IS ELIGIBLE to vote, but we can't force someone who is eligible to register. AFTER cleaning the voting roles, you can send everyone who asks for it a Postage Paid mail in ballot (which still must be postmarked by election day), but they have to have previously obtained the ID and it will be sent to the address on record. But if they don't mail it in, they have to bring it to the polling place and use it as their paper ballot or shred it. We certify "people helping people fill out their ballots" and have two volunteers both signing that there is no pushing or fraud and they will keep the results secret. They will take the ballot to the nearest mailbox and put it in to avoid "harvesting" or simply collecting stacks of ballots and setting them all on fire. We can have both secure and verified voting and only THEN let anyone who wishes to vote absentee (by mail). Instead there are objections to requiring ANY measure to verify who is voting - at the polling place is a problem, but mail-in gives no security - so because we are unwilling to clean the voter's rolls and eliminate fraud at that level, we can't make it easier to vote since the fraud will be 100x easier. A dead person can't show up at the polling place, but can mail in a ballot.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 8:51am

      Re: Handicap Spaces

      Voting is not like parking a car - obviously - but do not let that stop you.

      You do not need to register in order to park your car, neither do you need a license.
      Parking a car does not require waiting in line for hours only to be told that you are at the wrong parking garage.
      Parking your car is not dependent upon your skin color or your sex. Parking your car does not require detailed investigation of each and every parking space prior to making your choice ... assuming there is an available space.
      Parking your car does not involve a continual barrage of phone calls from each parking space enticing you into choosing it.

      Please stay safe and do not attempt to vote whilst driving.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 9:16am

        Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

        You do not need to register in order to park your car,

        Unless you want to use disabled parking, where you need to register and provide the doctors not. That is what he was talking about, but don't let that stop you attacking people for something that they did not say.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 10:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

          It was a bad analogy and you know it.

          Is everyone that votes disabled? I do not think so.

          Attacking? Wow, thin skin in so vogue these days.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 11:57am

          Re: Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

          attacking people

          Someday you perpetual victims will catch a break.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 12:24pm

        Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

        You do not need to register in order to park your car

        Most areas require all cars to be registered.

        neither do you need a license.

        To park on a public street, or to use such a street to access a parking space, you do.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

          If one is driving legally, they will have the requisite paperwork necessary for the occasional traffic stop. ymmv, depending upon skin color.

          So you're driving around and want to park ... do you need additional paperwork in order to do so? Not from the state.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 9:24am

      we are unwilling to clean the voter's rolls

      Georgia flagged over 300,000 people as being ineligible to vote and delayed over 50,000 voter registrations ahead of that state’s 2018 gubernatorial election. Those “irregularities” were overseen by Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp — who was also the Republican candidate in that election — and were largely considered an attempt to cheat his opponent out of a win.

      The “irregularities” disproportionately affected Black people. Kemp’s opponent, Stacey Abrams, was a Black woman.

      I’m not saying the concept of voter roll purges has racist intent. Such purges are a good idea in principle. But bad execution always voids good intent. And Republicans, far more than Democrats, execute these purges with bad intent (i.e., with the intent to disenfranchise people of color who vote Democrat). The purges aren’t the only way they try to do that, either — Republicans are the main driving force behind voter ID laws, which also disproportionately affect people of color.

      The death of democracy begins when the party in power refuses to let its enemies vote. So calm down with the calls for voter roll purges until you can guarantee they can and will be done with fairness towards your enemies — however you want to define that term for yourself.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:11pm

        Re:

        Didn't they also misplace some sort of important data?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2020 @ 8:33am

        Re:

        So calm down with the calls for voter roll purges until you can guarantee they can and will be done with fairness towards your enemies — however you want to define that term for yourself.

        In 'mercia, the idea of "I disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to say it to the death" is a long dead concept. These days, we're lucky if a Twitter Mob doesn't cost you life and liberty for not being Politically Correct as defined by said mob. Schools and universities are filled intellectual safe spaces so fragile minds don't have to process or even acknowledge concepts that they themselves define as "harmful". Even companies don't stand up to the mob for fear of massive PR damage, and grab their ankles at every demand. Politicians fuel the mob to leverage their campaigns and bolster their approval ratings. Virtually no aspect of US society is safe from the mob's wrath, and as such no group is willing to give a perceived enemy's view point equal consideration.

        Given the sorry state of things here, your solution will not have the intended effect. If anything, "fairness" to the mob means complete submission to them. While for you it means your ideals, morals, and ethics are defined by which ever mob is most threatening at a given time. All of which directly translates to votes.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Apr 2020 @ 12:07pm

          In 'mercia, the idea of "I disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to say it to the death" is a long dead concept.

          No, it isn’t.

          Everything you describe as the consequences for speech are not legal, but social consequences. A good example: those teenagers who made the news over their posting a racist video on TikTok. The school expelled those teens over that video (which the school [arguably] has the right to do). The general public called the teens “racist assholes” and other such things (which the general public has the right to do). Conservative media outlets will probably be interviewing those teens before too much longer, or maybe already have (which those outlets have the right to do). And the teens themselves will probably cry about how “this isn’t who we are” and “we have Black friends” and other such excuses (which they have the right to do).

          Nowhere in this situation have the teens suffered any legal punishment. They haven’t been (and won’t be) arrested or fined. And few people, if any, have suggested that the teens have no legal right to say what they said. Hell, I abhor what they said, and I would still defend their legal right to say it…while also telling them that they’re racist assholes who probably should’ve kept their racism far away from TikTok.

          You don’t, and shouldn’t, have a right to stop others from responding to your speech — no matter what you think of those responses. Yes, you have a right to speak your mind. But here’s the kicker: So does everyone else.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 10:41am

      Re: Handicap Spaces

      With your brilliant example, are you actually arguing that parking a car is a right enumerated in the Bill of Rights?

      Lets have everyone provide proof of voter elegibility and be assigned a voter's card FOR FREE which will note the name, address they are voting at, and a few ID things like date of birth, and even provide assistance in obtaining one, maybe combining it with the Census.

      Or, you could ask president trump's commission on voter fraud what it found as far as all the election fraud that took place in the 2016 election, where he lost the popular vote to a low-rent candidate like Hillary Clinton. You really could, you know, except that he disbanded it. :(

      Then again, all that information that the "voter fraud" task force found already existed at DHS. I'm curious as to why such a widespread rampant problem has absolutely zero data on how widespread it is, apart from anecdotes that exist only within the confines of trump's orange tinted head.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 10:59am

        Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

        I think the one case of voter fraud they found was a republican.
        Electoral fraud runs rampant.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 11:59am

          Re: Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

          It was, but I'm sure they won't let that stand in the way of their self-righteous indignation.

          If they lose, voter fraud must exist.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

        With your brilliant example, are you actually arguing that parking a car is a right enumerated in the Bill of Rights?

        The idea that "rights" refers only to what's enumerated is harmful, and exactly why some of the founders were against the Bill of Rights in the first place—and why the 10th amendment was ultimately included within it. Non-enumerated rights are just as valid as enumerated ones.

        (This poster has expressed no opinion about whether parking a car is a right and it is an offense to claim otherwise.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 4:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: Handicap Spaces

          I hear what you are saying but what good is a right if it is not written down?

          Everyone knows we hang horse thieves.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 5:42pm

      Re: Handicap Spaces

      A dead person can't show up at the polling place, but can mail in a ballot.

      A dead person can't vote at all, period, but apparently can decide in favor of a net neutrality repeal, so... was there a problem you were trying to allude to? Because the administration sure as hell won't give a fuck.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 6:13pm

      Re: Handicap Spaces

      What is the purpose of the voter card other than trying to make it harder to vote? Colorado does all its elections by mail and there is no need for a voter ID card. You register to vote, and you get mailed a ballot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 9:50am

    So, these are your options: tell people to vote in person and risk contracting the virus. Or advise them to dodge the virus by voting from home and go to jail... where you'll risk contracting the virus.

    Or don't say anything, which is what most people do. Of course, in a country of "free speech", nobody should feel that's their only choice.

    It's a giant stretch to read the law's text as the AG is. I'd hardly call making suggestions "caus[ing] false information to be provided on an application" or "caus[ing] a ballot to be obtained under false pretenses". I think it's obvious that this was meant to cover actions by the would-be voters themselves, in communicating with election officials—not to stop people talking about it. That makes as much sense as saying that gun advertisements and violent movies cause people to commit crimes. In Texas, that could get an AG impeached.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 1:06pm

    Hmm... The Gov needs to rolls an alignment check. Not sure if Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 21 Apr 2020 @ 5:24pm

    Even the bullshit is bigger in Texas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2020 @ 6:39pm

    Texas Attorney General's Office Says It Can Toss People In Jail For Suggesting Coronavirus Fears Are A Legit Reason To Vote From Home

    Or advise them to dodge the virus by voting from home

    Both the headline and the second quote are dishonest, as they both leave out the "lie about having a disability" part. "Advise them to dodge the virus by lying about having a disability in order to vot[e] from home." Fear of contracting a disease, however well- or ill-founded, isn't a disability, by any reasonable definition of the term.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 11:20pm

      I think you missed the point:

      to the extent third parties advise voters to apply for a mail-in ballot based solely on fear of contracting COVID-19, such activity could subject those third parties to criminal sanctions imposed by Election Code section 84.0041. TEX. ELEC. CODE § 84.0041 (providing that a person commits an offense if the person "intentionally causes false information to be provided on an application for ballot by mail")

      The Texas AG’s office is suggesting that anyone who advises voters afraid of catching COVID-19 to apply for a mail-in ballot will be punished for doing so. And since violating that specific part of the Election Code is a felony, that punishment could (and likely would) include jail time.

      Yes, the letter of the law says “lying about having a disability in order to vot[e] from home” is a crime. But here are two questions, one of which is raised by the article, that could use some answering:

      1. For what reason must the law be followed to the letter in this time of pandemic, such that people must risk their health/lives to exercise their voting rights?

      2. Similarly: For what reason can’t Texas make mail-in voting legally available to all citizens without making anyone justify a request for a mail-in ballot?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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