Kasha Williams is the first African-American woman to run for Gregg County Commissioner for Precinct 4. Her opponent was Shannon Brown. But this is not the only novel aspect of the election. There are lingering doubts about the legitimacy of the voting both this year and in the past prompting Reverend D J Nelson to file a complaint with the Secretary of State. Williams backer, Madolyn Scott, has dubbed Nelson the “Martin Luther King of Longview.”
Senator Bryan Hughes (R); State Representative District 7 Jay Dean (R); Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, Sheriff Maxey Cerliano, District Attorney Carl Dorrough and County Commissioner Precinct 4 Darryl Williams assembled at the Gregg County Courthouse to announce the state has taken over the investigation of possible voter fraud.
After speaking with several other elected officials Dean reported the issue of “voter harvesting” is not new. It has been a problem for 20 to 25 years in Precinct 4. The enormous volume of mail-in ballots in this precinct raises suspicions. In other Gregg County precincts absentee ballots only made up 2.5% of all votes. In Precinct 4 absentee ballots constituted a whopping 39%. This raises the question of why Precinct 4 has so many disabled voters. Dean complimented Nelson for his willingness to draw attention to this problem, saying his “bravery will right this wrong.”
“Thanks to Reverend D.J. Nelson we hope that this will not happen again, and I call upon you to help us right this wrong,” said Dean.
Hughes left no doubts as to the gravity of the situation.
“This is a big deal. This race stands out and demands that we look at it,” he said. “It needs to be investigated because of the numbers of the absentee ballots. If the law has been broken, the persons who broke the law will be held accountable.”
Stoudt could not have agreed more.
“This issue is too important to ignore,” he said.
He also called upon anyone with knowledge of this tampering to contact the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office and/or Gregg County Crime Stoppers. He, too, applauded Nelson for acting, and anticipates more witnesses will also step forward. Sorting out this matter is not likely to happen overnight. Stoudt anticipates the investigation will take at least six months, and he made it clear the county will cooperate to the fullest in uncovering every bit of information concerning the case.
“What happened is obvious,” said Precinct 4 resident Bob Stoker. “It is illegal.”
This precinct is predominantly African-American, making this scandal especially significant. The right to vote did not come easily to this segment of the population. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law specifically to remove legal obstructions at state and local levels that had traditionally hampered African-Americans from exercising their right of voting as guaranteed by the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Scott is disappointed that this heavily African-American and Democratic precinct is involved in supposed voter harvesting. She pointed out that this is why qualified candidates may not run for office.
“I want to get things corrected,” she said. “Voter harvesting hurts us because we cannot get quality people elected.”
She also opines that another reason South Longview is plagued by voter harvesting is that some men do not like strong women.
“It is time for this to stop,” she said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has acknowledged that his office has received the reports of alleged rigged elections in Gregg County.
“While our general policy is to not comment on any investigation in its early stages, we review election fraud reports thoroughly, and where warranted will investigate offenses to the full extent of our resources,” he said. “Election fraud undermines completely the integrity of the voting process and cannot be tolerated to any degree.”