Dallas County commissioners passed a resolution calling for the Texas Legislature to enact online voter registration and expand mail-in voting. Republican Commissioner J.J. Koch—the only vote against the measure—sided with citizens, arguing for “radical transparency” in elections instead.

On Tuesday morning, by a vote of 4-1, the Dallas County Commissioners Court passed a resolution from County Judge Clay Jenkins (D) calling on the Texas Legislature “to pass an online voter registration bill as well as allow for increased vote by mail options for all Texas voters to increase voter participation and strengthen our democracy.”

Press inquiries were sent to the commissioners asking if taxpayer-funded lobbyists hired by them would be pushing their call to action in the Texas Legislature. No response was received before publication time.

Christine Welborn of election integrity organization Direct Action Texas previously told Texas Scorecard of the vulnerabilities of voting by mail. “Voting by mail does not have any of the protections of voting in person,” she explained. “It potentially eliminates voter ID, the secret ballot, freedom from intimidation while voting, chain of custody, and more.”

There are also concerns with online voter registration. “Online voter registration is always problematic,” she told Texas Scorecard. “The ideal is a wet signature on the voter registration just like the application for ballot by mail and the ballot carrier envelope.”

Before the commissioners voted, citizens expressed their displeasure.

“Our elected bodies of government do not have a constitutional right to petition one another,” Karyn Brownlee told commissioners.

She also expressed concerns about expanding mail-in voting based on data from the most recent election in Dallas County. “Last fall, early voting reports showed our county deficient in record keeping, particularly with votes by mail,” she said.

“Automatic voter registration opens the possibility of voter fraud,” added Suzanne Pham.

The resolution also labeled President Donald Trump’s concerns about the 2020 election results as an “unsubstantiated narrative,” adding that “there were no findings to question the legitimacy of the outcome of the election.”

It also pushed these recommendations to the U.S. Congress from the Brennan Center for Justice:

  • Enact Automatic Voter Registration
  • Restore the Voting Rights Act
  • Expand Early Voting
  • Prevent Long Lines at Polls

Commissioner Koch took issue with Jenkins promoting Brennan and quoted their statement in saying, “[A]nyone who has a problem with this election, their central problem is that they’re not ok with votes by black and brown people.”

“That is a disgusting radical position, to taint all Republicans like that,” Koch added.

Koch led the fight against the resolution, arguing what’s needed to restore faith in elections is more transparency.

“I believe the solution is radical transparency and [to] stop being a chicken about it,” he told Jenkins. “Transparency calms the angst.”

“If you just let people lay eyes on it, they’re going to see they lost and be able to walk on,” Koch said. “But we continue to do this in Dallas County, and we continue to do this in other parts of the country. If you just had it completely open and auditable, we are not going to have these issues.”

Koch brought up specific instances of a lack of transparency in Dallas. “More than 10 [GOP poll watchers] were taken off election sites. So were Republican election clerks, removed here on the last election, November 3, by the sheriff.”

U.S. Congressman Lance Gooden (R–TX) alleged in November that Democrats “running Dallas County elections” had “continually kicked [his] poll watchers out of the counting room” and prevented them from observing the counting of mail-in ballots.

“There’s a number of people in my party … every executive committee … saying we got cheated in ’18 and we got cheated in ’20,” Koch added.

Unrelated to Gooden’s allegation, two Republican election workers in the county were allegedly fired for not wearing masks.

Election integrity continues to be an issue of concern in Texas, and it is the No. 1 priority of the Texas Republican Party.

Just last week in Bexar County, Rachel Rodriguez was arrested for election fraud, illegal voting, unlawfully assisting people who were voting by mail, and unlawfully possessing an official ballot.

In a prior interview, DAT said Texas must ensure all voters are eligible and clarify election law where it comes to voting by mail with a disability.

State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) has filed two election integrity bills to prevent voter fraud and ensure only legally qualified citizens vote.

DAT has called for Texans concerned about election integrity to contact their state representative and state senator.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.