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Texas GOP official calls for an 'election integrity brigade' to monitor diverse precincts

A man who has identified himself as a Texas GOP official called for an “army” of Republican poll watchers to be sent to polls in Harris County, Texas, The Washington Post reports, citing a leaked video.

The unnamed man reportedly pulled up a map of Harris County’s voting precincts and pointed to Houston’s urban core and claimed “this is where the fraud is occurring.” The video was obtained by government accountability group Common Cause Texas (CCT), which said the video was sent by a concerned citizen.

In the video, the man reportedly says, "a lot of Republican folks have got to have the courage [to work outside the suburbs]. If we don’t do that, this fraud down in here is really going to continue.” He suggested sending poll watchers specifically to Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, a Black congregation, the Post reports.

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The Post notes that there is no evidence that suggests widespread voter fraud occurs in Texas or anywhere in the U.S. Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt told Reuters in September of last year that he had only identified 31 incidents of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2014 out of more than 1 billion votes cast.

“It’s very clear that we’re talking about recruiting people from the predominantly Anglo parts of town to go to Black and Brown neighborhoods,” Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of CCT, told the Post.

“This is a role that’s supposed to do nothing but stand at a poll site and observe,” Gutierrez added. So “why is he suggesting someone needs to be ‘courageous’?”

The Harris Republican Party told the Post that CCT was “blatantly mischaracterizing a grassroots election worker recruitment video.”

“The goal is to activate an army of volunteers for every precinct in Harris County,” party chair Cindy Siegel said. “And to engage voters for the whole ballot, top to bottom, and ensure every legal vote is counted.”

This video was recorded in early March and comes as the Texas legislature is considering new voting laws that would expand the role of poll watchers and limit oversight from election officials, the Post notes.

The GOP-proposed legislation would allow poll watchers to film and photograph state polling locations and send the footage to the Texas secretary of state.