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Published on Jul 25, 2008
What would happen to you if police caught you on video fraudulently voting? Would cops quickly arrest you and throw you in jail, only to have the District Attorney immediately charge you with fraud?
What would happen to elected government officials if they were caught doing the same? Absolutely nothing?
In fact, our representatives in the U.S. government have become so brazen, that they commit fraud in plain view, on a daily basis, while at the same time trying to pass laws that would further restrict and criminalize the public for doing the same.
This is a clear sign of excessive government, when the government is so large and overwhelmingly powerful that it's agents can abuse the civilian population without any sense of guilt, remorse, or fear - when government officials deny charges of illegal conduct made against themselves as a matter of semantics, and when agents of the government expect and get immunity from any of their actions; actions that would be criminally prosecuted upon any other citizens.
The few standing up for freedom, liberty, and the Constitution, such as Congressman Ron Paul, who has been called the Thomas Jefferson of our day, are the only hope for America; the only hope for returning our empire-sized government to it's proper Constitutional levels of national defense, upholding the law, and protecting the rights of the people and individual liberties.
There's been a lot of debate at the State Capitol on bills relating to voter integrity. Some lawmakers are pushing for measures such as requiring voters to show a photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot. Another bill would criminalize anyone who delivers a ballot for someone unable to drive to the polls. With so much emphasis on one vote for one person, you'd think lawmakers would make sure they follow the rules, too.
In this CBS 42 Investigates, Nanci Wilson found many don't. State Representative Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, authored the bill that would require voters to show a photo ID. "It's all about integrity," Riddle said. But the integrity of one person, one vote doesn't apply at the legislature. CBS 42 found many lawmakers vote more than once. During a vote, Riddle votes, turns around and votes again for another state representative. There's so much going on during the vote on the HPV vaccine mandate, you really have to pay attention. First, State Rep. Mike Hamilton is at his desk. He leans over to vote a second time for his deskmate Dan Branch. Hamilton reaches back to vote for Charlie Howard, then casts a fourth vote for Wayne Smith. He's not the only one scrambling to vote. State Rep. G.E. West and State Rep. Larry Phillips both lean over to vote for themselves and their deskmates. Phillips votes a third time for State Rep. Wayne Christian. Donna Howard votes for State Rep. Hubert Vo.
State Rep. Jim Dunnam didn't have to leave his chair to cast four votes--one for himself then for Garnet Coleman, Trey Martinez Fischer and Marc Veasey.
Sometimes the voting is across party lines. Will Hartnett, a Republican, reaches back to vote for Democrat Rene Oliveira. Democrat Jim McReynolds votes for Republican Kirk England, and Republican John Davis votes for Democrat Rick Noriega. Most voters have no way of knowing if their lawmakers are actually casting their own votes. Even though the legislature is broadcast on cable TV, the cameras change when it's time to vote. But if you're sitting in the third floor gallery, you have a better view. "I certainly noticed. There appears to be far more votes on the tick board than there were people in the room," capitol visitor Laurel Weiss said. Arnie and Laurel Weiss were baffled when they came to see the legislature in action. "It seems very inappropriate and they should do something about it," Arnie Weiss said.
Riddle says voting for other members is done out of necessity. "We have a lot of amendments," Riddle said. "We don't have lunch breaks, dinner breaks, restroom breaks." Necessity or not, one thing is clear, they aren't supposed to be doing it. According to the official House rules--written, voted and approved by lawmakers at the beginning of the session--"Any member found guilty by the House of knowingly voting for another member on the voting machine shall be subject to discipline deemed appropriate by the House."
So, should lawmakers do it? "No, there's no question," Weiss said. "On face value it appears to be a blatant violation, an affront, of their own rules." It is against their own rules. But the issue is with enforcement. It is the speaker's job to make sure rules are followed. When CBS 42 asked Speaker of the House Tom Craddick's spokesperson about it, she just shrugged her shoulders and said it was up to the House members to decide what do to if there's a violation. Although the practice is widespread, CBS 42 couldn't find any instances of lawmakers being disciplined for voting more than once.