Texas’ newest state senator might also be the latest example in the ongoing discussion about election reform. Liberals in the media recently made the ridiculous claim that State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) voted twice on the same day – in Texas and Virginia. Given that Birdwell’s brother voted that day but was not counted, it was clearly a case of poll-worker confusion, coupled by lax ballot security. Meanwhile, the Democrat running against Birdwell in November has called election reform measures “unnecessary.”
In 2004, then Army Lt. Col. Birdwell was in Virginia, still recuperating from the severe injuries he sustained at the Pentagon on 9/11, when he cast his ballot in that year’s presidential election. The story alleges that Mr. Birdwell was also in Texas, and voted in the same election in Tarrant County.
It seems clear that Sen. Birdwell did not fly across the country on Election Day and cast a second vote for then-President George W. Bush. What appears to have actually happened is this: Sen. Brian Douglas Birdwell’s brother, Douglas Todd Birdwell, went to vote, and the election clerk checked the wrong box.
While this may be a minor error in other areas of government administration, it further exposes a real problem with our electoral process.
Suppose Sen. Birdwell had showed up to vote after his brother. He would have likely been turned away, or given a provisional ballot that would probably have been dismissed before being counted. Further, if the scenario had been different, and his brother had noticed the oversight, and had nefarious motives, he probably could have voted twice that day.
For those who dismiss the need for election reform, particularly Voter ID, and suggest our electoral process can’t be compromised, this is another example of exactly how it could – and may be – happening, without any trace of impropriety.
Considering the somewhat bizarre range of documents that can substitute for voter registration cards or photo identification, including a utility bill, combined with seemingly inattentive election administrators, a coordinated effort could certainly pose a threat.
How prevalent is this situation? Could we even find out if we tried?
While we commend the dedication and patriotism of election clerks, which are essentially voluntary positions for civically responsible Texans, this specific example has only come to light because someone was trying to find dirt to smear a political candidate with.
If election clerks are not paying close enough attention to ensure who has voted, at least in this one case, how do we know if a process is being followed to ensure who is voting? Are they closely checking non-traditional documents being presented as identification; would they even challenge them if they looked questionable?
This troublesome situation should reinforce the resolve of legislative leaders to address ballot security measures during the next legislative session. It makes you wonder if Sen. Birdwell’s opponent would agree.
Democrats in SD-22 named John Cullar (D-Waco), a personal injury trial lawyer and former McLennan County Democratic Party chairman, as their nominee to challenge Sen. Birdwell in November.
An article in the Waco Tribune-Herald reminds voters that just last year, Mr. Cullar said Voter ID was “unnecessary” and “an attempt to suppress voters.”