Election Coup: Following Bruce Sherbet's Adios, Only the Man from Plains Can Save Us Now

I'm serious. I want Jimmy Carter to come monitor our elections. We need his help.

So, if you were around here eight years ago, when Dallas was getting national attention for vote fraud, you might be especially concerned about recent developments in the county elections department. Until the Legislature adopted new laws to curb the abuse, Dallas was sort of the Wild West for a seamy practice called "vote harvesting."

Basically, paid operatives arranged to have mail-in ballots sent out to a lot of old people. Then the operatives showed up at the old people's doors, told them who to vote for and collected their ballots.

Sometimes they did it for a particular candidate. Sometimes they were freelancers, collecting boxes of signed but uncast ballots which they would then sell to the highest bidder.

Largely at the instigation of then Dallas Representative Steve Wolens, the Legislature passed laws trying to prevent the worst of the scams, but that doesn't mean there are no longer any ways to cheat.

Several people have told me they are worried that political boss and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, aided by his henchman, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, moved to get rid of Dallas County elections director Bruce Sherbet because Sherbet was too straight and too smart to allow hanky-panky.

What hanky-panky could take place under the new laws? It all depends on who can get through the door to the ballot-counting room at the elections department on vote night and who cannot. The people in that room have great discretion to allow or disallow ballots. In the extremely low-turnout narrow-margin contests common in down-ballot elections in Dallas, the people in the vote-counting room can easily make the difference.

Nobody with good sense is comforted that Price got rid of the honest guy who ran that room for more than two decades and seems to be replacing him with a plant. There has to be a reason.

In the meantime, what are the chances we could get Jimmy Carter to come monitor our elections? He's got have a good nose for this stuff by now, and we need some kind of interim assurances.

Think about it. We need to catch up with Liberia.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze