It isn’t often you’ll see Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D) and a Tea Party group agree on something. But that’s just what happened on Thursday when a lawyer representing a Tea Party-backed True the Vote project wrote the Justice Department to request federal poll monitors come to Harris County, Texas.
Jackson Lee said on Thursday she is concerned about aggressive poll watchers, and requested that the Justice Department send in federal poll monitors to stop voter suppression.
“They believe that the presence of federal observers in the polling place will serve to mitigate some of the more threatening harassment directed toward poll watchers,” J. Christian Adams, who has been described as the DOJ whistleblower on the New Black Panther Party case, wrote on behalf of his client True the Vote.
“The poll watchers trained by True the Vote are often elderly retirees,” added. “They have endured a variety of insults and discourteous behavior from a variety of sources. As you know, a federal presence tends to keep everyone on their best behavior,” Adams wrote in a letter to his former boss, DOJ Voting Section Chief Chris Herren.
Jackson Lee and poll watchers in Harris County have traded accusations over election activity.
DOJ has already confirmed that it was looking at allegations of voter intimidation in Harris County, but did not specifically mention True the Vote. The County Clerk’s office has dismissed concerns over the activities of poll watchers, who were accused of hovering over voters.
Adams also said that if monitors were deployed to the county, the lead attorney was invited to “observe final briefings of the poll watchers before they deploy.”
“I have some confidence they would see that True the Vote strives to ensure that the elections are run in full compliance with the law, whether the laws pertaining to election integrity, or poll watcher limits,” Adams wrote. “Because DOJ observers have always endeavored to reach out to all community groups, it would seem especially fruitful if your lead coverage attorney could observe the actual briefings of poll watchers before they deploy.”
After it was targeted by True the Vote, the voter registration group Houston Votes received threatening, racist e-mails. Adams was speaking to the King Street Patriots when the president of the organization said that Houston Votes headquarters was the location of the New Black Panther Party.