Dear Texas Republican,
What a wonderful time to be a Republican! Today we have learned that we can finally claim victory for Blake Farenthold after the recount concluded in Congressional District 27, and we also may learn about a potential recount in House District 48. It has been immensely rewarding to see the large gains that the GOP made two weeks ago. My congratulations to all of our successful candidates, our county parties and our wonderful volunteers!
Since my last update, there is much to report regarding the Ballot Integrity Task Force, and what our team accomplished before, during and after the election. This Ballot Integrity effort took many, many hours of planning, coordination, and implementation, and I want to start by thanking the talented and committed group of individuals who were on our Task Force: SREC members Amy Clark, Jean McIver, and Eric Opiela, Tarrant County Chairman Stephanie Klick, Kendall County Chairman and TFRW immediate Past President Toni Anne Dashiell, TFRW Ballot Integrity Chairman Barbara Larson, former Harris County Judge Ken Wise and Judge Martha Jamison, who as a result of this election, will be returning to the bench (Yea, Martha!).
Our Ballot Integrity initiative included three parts: Volunteer Recruitment and Training, Election Day Ballot Integrity Hotline, and support after the election for county chairs and candidates experiencing recounts.
1) Recruitment and training of volunteers. The Task Force provided several opportunities for training via webinar and in person. Overall, besides basic election instruction, our training focused on common ways that mistakes and fraud can occur in the election process. Volunteers were shown how to see it, and what to do when they see it. Numerous persons stepped up all over the state to serve as poll watchers, election judges and alternate judges and clerks. Additionally, several county parties, including Tarrant, Bexar, Nueces, Travis, Williamson and Denton, provided in person training and were willing to include folks from other counties. Many thanks to Eric Opiela, Kathy Haigler, and Stephanie Klick for being our trainers.
The Task Force also recruited and trained attorneys to assist on Election Day. Realizing that most of our volunteer attorneys were not familiar with election law, for the first time ever we provided a course in election law, for which attorneys were able to receive an hour of CLE. Many thanks to Eric Opiela for providing that training. In addition, Denton County attorney Richard Hayes put together a paper about common Election Day legal issues for the attorneys. Finally, Harris County attorneys Ken Wise, George Fibbe, and Lucy Forbes went above and beyond in handling special issues in Harris County.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the SREC Ballot Integrity Subcommittee and its chairman Marian Stanko for their work on the excellent RPT Ballot Integrity Manual which was forwarded to all county chairman and SREC, as well as to our volunteer attorneys.
2) Election Day. The Task Force established a Hotline as well as an email address. On Election Day, we established a “virtual headquarters” using online technologies that allowed our team to see and hear in real-time, the calls, emails and even text messages that were coming in from around the state.
Our team was able to handle most of the calls, and had to turn to our volunteer attorneys only a couple times. Although most of the volunteer attorneys were not called upon on Election Day, we still greatly appreciate their willingness to help.
3) Recount efforts. After the election, we disseminated information to the county chairs regarding how they should prepare for recounts. Further, our team provided ballot integrity support and information for several candidates and county chairman who have had been involved in recounts.
Much like the Boy Scouts, we are working under the motto of “Be Prepared.” We received much documented feedback this election that not only allowed us to react on Nov. 2nd, but also will help us with training and education for the next election.
As head of this Task Force, my heartfelt thanks go out to the members of our team: Amy Clark, from SD21, provided us with her talents in communications and writing, and was the point person for many days in answering our hotline. Jean McIver, from SD12, who was always available with a willingness to answer questions and troubleshoot, and brought many years of experience with ballot integrity to our group. And of course, Eric Opiela from SD21, who was an outstanding help to our team, and invaluable for his knowledge of election law and how we could best help our volunteers receive training and materials that would make them fully informed and up to speed on the laws governing what we were trying to accomplish.
I’m also very grateful to Tarrant County GOP Chair Stephanie Klick, who passed along her experiences and knowledge to numerous other county chairs that she personally spoke with during the process. Stephanie’s knowledge of resources was also very helpful to us. Toni Anne Dashiell and Barbara Lawson were invaluable for being able to reach out and make calls to our county chairs and keeping up communications with many candidates and campaigns. We were very blessed to have guidance and advice from Judge Martha Hill Jamison and Judge Ken Wise, with their knowledge of election law, and steady presence and willingness to serve, even on election night when many others were at victory celebrations – Martha stood ready to assist!
Many thanks go to Senator John Cornyn who was very supportive of all our efforts, and helped us identify a national expert to help us with training and crucial information about how to set up our virtual headquarters.
The RPT and the Ballot Integrity Task Force is committed to continuing this process and working to legally safeguard and protect ALL Texas voters in future elections. Our goal remains very straightforward: To ensure that no voter is disenfranchised, to ensure that all legally cast votes are accurately tabulated, and to reduce confusion among voters and elected officials regarding election laws and procedures.
Thank you again to all of you who participated in making sure this election happened so smoothly. From precinct chairman and election judge, all the way up to candidates and county chairmen – you made the difference.
I’d like to conclude my update with a moment of personal privilege to speak to you about our Chairman, Steve Munisteri and how inspiring it is to work with someone who is so dedicated to our Texas Republican Party, and so focused on making the Party successful.
Steve is a team builder, and does the very best he can to be inclusive and bring harmony to our Republican family. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” As our State Chairman, Steve strives for unity and understands why it is important to our continued success, but he remains at his very core, a principled conservative. He is the very embodiment of a 1976 / 1980 Ronald Reagan Republican, and one of the great “evangelists” for conservatism in Texas. As anybody who has met Steve will tell you, he holds so much excitement in his worldview as a fiscal and social conservative, and he communicates that excitement very practically to thousands of Texans every month.
Steve is a true leader in that he shares praise and credit for our Party’s success and victories with those who surround him, and always focuses on what our volunteers and candidates have done. But much of this praise deserves to be heaped upon him.
What Steve Munisteri has done in five months as our State Chairman is incredible. He has led the RPT out of serious debt, into financial prosperity. He has built trust around the state with business leaders, major donors and elected officials, but he has also reached out to thousands more of our small donors and grassroots leaders. Our state party is stronger today than it has been in a very long time, and Steve’s vision for our continued success means even greater things lie ahead.
For me, in only a few months, Steve has gone from being a stranger to a valuable partner in our shared goals for the RPT. I thank him for the many sacrifices he has made, and the example of service above self that he has set for all Texas Republicans. I look forward to working with Steve for many more Republican victories and gains in 2012.
Vice-Chairman, Republican Party of Texas