. . . Just a few days after the 2020 presidential election, the lieutenant governor of the great state of Texas, a man named Dan Patrick, announced a cash reward [of] up to $1 million to anyone who could find evidence of the supposed voter fraud that President Trump said had cost him the election.
And this $1 million prize was not just for people in Texas, it was an offer valid in all 50 states . . . And wouldn`t you know it?
Soon after Texas`s Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick threw that chum into the water, he got a bite.
Oddly, he got it from somebody who has the same job he has in a different state. The lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania, a Democrat named John Fetterman said that he had taken on the challenge from Dan Patrick, and bingo, instantly, he hit pay dirt. He said he had bang up surefire evidence of an instance of real voter fraud in the 2020 election right in his home state of Pennsylvania and it was maybe not the kind of voter fraud his Texas counterpart was hoping for.
But John Fetterman tried to collect just the same. He said, hey, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, it`s me John Fetterman, your counterpart in Pennsylvania. I`d like to collect your handsome reward for reporting voter fraud. I`ve got a dude in Forty Fort PA who tried to have his dead mom vote for Trump.
Oddly, as far as we know, Pennsylvania`s lieutenant governor did not receive any of that reward money . . .
But he was not the only one. There was another Pennsylvania guy. This one in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He filled out a voter registration application for his dead mother as well. Although his mother had been dead for like a dozen years. The guy then requested and submitted an absentee ballot in her name with a vote for Donald Trump for president in 2020.
When the state of Pennsylvania flagged his mother`s voter registration as belonging to an obviously dead person, this guy ended up signing and sending back a letter to the state swearing that in fact, she was still alive. He did that all in order to deliberately cast a single fraudulent vote for Donald Trump. He plead guilty to it in court.
But wait, there`s more. There was a guy in Chester County, Pennsylvania, another registered Republican, who went and cast his ballot at his local polling place. But then 45 minutes later he came back wearing sunglasses. And in sunglasses, he cast a ballot in his son`s name. Somehow, an alert poll worker saw through his brilliant sunglasses disguise.
If you don`t just want to pick on Pennsylvania, there`s also a guy in Ohio, an actual elected local Republican official in his town in Ohio. He voted twice in 2020, once for himself, and once by forging his dead father`s signature. Again, he`s an elected Republican official in Ohio.
Voter fraud is very, very rare in our country, but there are a few instances of it here and there usually affecting a single vote. And the few instances of it that do turn out from time-to-time, they`re usually ridiculous. And all of those instances that I just described from 2020 . . . all of those Republicans, ALL of them got off with basically a slap on the wrist . . .
The guy who voted for his long dead, dozen years dead mother swearing she was still alive — he got five years` probation. The local Republican elected official in Ohio who voted for his dead father got three days in jail and a $500 fine. And it is worth keeping that context in mind when you also remember the case of Crystal Mason. . . .
In 2016, she went to her local polling place in Tarrant County, Texas to vote, she discovered her name was not on the voting rolls there. So, at the suggestion of a poll worker, Ms. Mason, filled out a provisional ballot. She was told basically, we`re not sure what the problem is, but fill out this provisional ballot. That way, if there is any real problem here, we won`t count it. But provisionally, you can cast this vote in case we can sort out whatever seems to be the matter.
A few months after that experience, Crystal Mason was arrested and charged with illegal voting because when she filled out that provisional ballot, she was on supervised release after completing a prison sentence for a federal conviction. And she thought, because she had served her time in prison, that she was eligible to vote, she did not know that under Texas law, you`re not eligible to vote unless you`ve also completed any probation or any supervised release – after release from prison. She did not know that.
Even though that was a technical misunderstanding, and even though she cast a provisional ballot, and even though her provisional ballot was never counted, she nevertheless was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
Five years hard time for illegal voting.
So, if you are a Republican white guy engaged in a premeditated scheme to deliberately cast a dead person`s vote for Donald Trump, even though you know that person`s dead and it`s illegal, oh, it`s forgiven, probation, perhaps a small fine.
But if you are Crystal Mason in Texas, [a black woman] trying to vote because she does not know she is not eligible on a technicality . . . and in fact, her vote is never counted — five years in prison.
Now, you may remember us talking about Ms. Mason`s case on this show before.
It sticks in your mind right, because it is so, sort of egregious on its face, particularly egregious in context.
Now it looks like again, in the state of Texas, it may be happening again.
This story starts on primary day in Texas last year, so not the general election. This was actually Super Tuesday. The day that 15 different states and territories held their presidential primaries, including Texas, March 3rd last year and the turnout on Super Tuesday last year was massive.
Harris County, Texas, home to the state`s largest city of Houston. Harris County was not prepared for the huge turnout on Super Tuesday last March. There were crazy long lines at lots of polling places, particularly in heavily minority communities. People in those communities had to wait hours to vote in many circumstances. And that was when the nation met a man named Hervis Rogers.
Mr. Rogers was the last person in line at the polling site on Texas Southern University`s campus that night. That`s him, bald [black] guy there in the white shirt. Hervis Rogers worked two jobs. He got to the polling site just before polls closed at 7 PM to cast his ballot in the presidential primary. But in the end, it took him six hours and 20 minutes to get to the front of the line and cast his ballot. He finally walked out of that polling place after 130 in the morning.
According to some reports, he may have been the last person in the entire state of Texas to cast a vote that night. Again, he waited in line more than six hours. He told reporters after it was all over that it was worth it. He felt good. He also said though, that he`d been there so long, he had to go get ready for his next shift, for his next job.
After six hours online to vote.
So, a couple things came out of that 2020 primary day in Texas. For one, Hervis Rogers became a little bit of the story of the day, became sort of one news cycle mini celebrity because his persistence and dedication were so impressive, also, because no American should have to be so persistent and so dedicated in order to just cast a vote.
The other thing that happened in the wake of that was that the county clerk who oversaw that voting debacle on Super Tuesday last March in Texas, that county clerk apologized and resigned.
Harris County commissioners appointed a new clerk, an energetic, ambitious, enthusiastic young man who really hit the ground running. He changed the allocation of voting machines and he extended voting hours, he convinced Harris County officials to approve millions more dollars to pay for poll workers and drive-thru voting and mail-in-ballots, all things to try to ease the bottlenecks that led to such terribly long lines, hours long lines during the primary.
. . . [And so, in the 2020 general election] Harris County recorded its highest voter turnout in decades, in large part because Harris County made voting so easy and so accessible. They didn`t want to get stuck in those bottlenecks of years past. Vote at more times, in more places, vote from your car, vote by mail.
Texas Republicans looked at that, they looked at record voter turnout in their state`s largest city, one of the most diverse cities in the country. And they said oh, no, we cannot let that happen again. And that is why Texas state legislators are back in the state capitol this week called back by the state`s Republican governor for a special session, among other things, try to pass some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country.
And what the Republicans did to fashion this legislation, honestly, it seems like they just sort of looked at all the things that Harris County implemented last year, the measures that made voting easier and more accessible, made the voting process so smooth, led to record turnout. They looked at what Harris County did and they wrote a bill making, all of that illegal.
And just as Republican legislators gather in the Texas Capitol now for this special session to rollback voting rights . . . and former President Donald Trump addressed Republicans from all across the country gathered up the road in Dallas for the annual CPAC convention . . . just as all that is happening, today comes word from Texas that Hervis Rogers has been arrested by the Republican attorney general of Texas for illegal voting.
Turns out when Hervis Rogers waited over six hours to vote in March of 2020, on Super Tuesday, he was a few months short of the end of his parole for an old burglary conviction in the 90s. He`s been out of prison for more than 15 years, but his parole did not technically end until last June. And he voted in the primary in March.
Texas attorney general has now charged Hervis Rogers with two counts of illegal voting, alleging that he voted in the 2018 general election as well. We do not know at this point whether this was an honest mistake on Hervis Rogers` part, perhaps he did not know he was not allowed to vote, we don`t know. That said perhaps it was a deliberate premeditated scheme to wait over six hours in line to vote in a democratic primary in order to break the law on purpose.
We do not know what Mr. Rogers has to say about any of this. We can`t ask him because the attorney general of Texas has locked up Hervis Rogers on $100,000 bail. He`s in prison tonight. Unable to pay $100,000 bail. Bail is set at $100,000, because — what? — he might escape and vote again?
Also, I should tell you this: Hervis Rogers lives in Harris County. He voted in Harris County. But the Texas attorney general has chosen to file these charges against him in neighboring Montgomery County.
We asked the attorney general`s office why they filed these charges in that other county. They told us essentially because we can. They told us the laws allow them to file these charges in any county that abuts Harris County, if they want to. They wouldn`t tell us why they picked Montgomery County to press these charges specifically. I can tell you though, that according to the most recent U.S. Census data of the eight possible counties that abut Harris County, of the eight possible counties from which they have the option of drawing a jury pool, Montgomery County is just about the whitest, it has the lowest proportion of African American residents of any of those counties.
I mean, I can`t tell you for certain that that is relevant there. But I can tell you that it`s true. The attorney general`s office, we went back to them again, they will not tell us why they chose this county.
I`ll also tell you that the ACLU of Texas has put out a strong statement on this tonight, it says, the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Hervis Rogers should alarm all Texans.
“He waited in line for over six hours to vote to fulfill what he believed to be his civic duty. He is now locked up on a bail amount that most people could not afford. He faces potentially decades in jail. Our law should not intimidate people from voting by increasing the risk of prosecution for at worst innocent mistakes.”
If only he had been a white guy [intentionally] casting a vote in the name of a dead relative for Donald Trump, right [he could have been forgiven].
I will also tell you that the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has put out his own statement tonight, sort of, at least he has tweeted:
“Hervis is a felon rightly barred from voting under Texas law. I prosecute voter fraud everywhere we find it.”
And Ken Paxton prosecutes it whenever he wants to, as well, it would seem, and wherever he wants to.
The alleged illegal voting Hervis Rogers is accused of took place almost a year and a half ago. It`s not like he was hiding it. Like I said, he was a national media figure for a hot minute, because he had to cast his vote after that six plus hour wait before heading off to his other job. But apparently, this is the moment to arrest him, to lock him up on $100,000 bail and to bring charges against him that could put him in jail for decades. This is the moment. For some reason now have happened today.
As Republican legislators gather in the Texas state capital to try to make it harder for Texans who look like Hervis Rogers to vote. And just in time for Ken Paxton to give his big headliner speech at CPAC this weekend in Dallas, just before Donald Trump takes the stage there.
I should also tell you, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton himself is under indictment on securities fraud charges in the state of Texas, has been for years.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is [also] currently under FBI investigation for abusing his office to allegedly benefit a wealthy campaign donor, an elaborate scheme that was so egregious and over the top, seven of Paxton`s top deputies in the attorney general`s office reported him to law enforcement authorities.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is currently under investigation by the Texas State Bar to determine whether his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus fraud claims amount to professional misconduct that should result in him losing his law license. Remember when he tried to get the Texas – excuse me remember when he tried to get the United States Supreme Court to toss out other states presidential votes for Biden and declare Donald Trump the winner?
Yes, forge your dead parent`s signature in order to vote for Trump, slap on the wrist. Try to overturn a whole democratically decided election, you get to be Attorney General of Texas, even if you`re already under indictment.
But wait in line for over six hours to cast a vote a few weeks before your parole is up, you get locked up with bail you cannot possibly pay, charged in a county that seems designed to ensure an all-white jury, threatened with decades in prison.
That seems to be where we are today. . . .
Texas just got a little smaller.
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