Laura Press­ley Trolls County Clerk in Real Time

DeBeauvoir wisely declines to take the “election integrity” bait

Laura Press­ley Trolls County Clerk in Real Time

Last week, election nemesis Laura Press­ley issued another salvo over Travis County voting procedures. In a press release, Press­ley described an official briefing on the county's new Election Systems & Software voting system, which enables both computer tabulation and printed paper ballots for immediate verification and potential recounts.

Pressley claimed that Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir refused to answer questions from election judge Ray Marr, who wanted to know, "How will your office uniquely number the ballots according to the Texas Constitution Article 4 Section 6 [sic: apparently an error for Article 6, Sec. 4], and the Texas Election Code 52.062?" This "ballot numbering" claim formed a key element of Pressley's prolonged legal travails to overturn her 2014 City Council defeat by Greg Casar, whose 2016 re-election led the Texas Supreme Court in January to (finally) declare the whole case moot.

According to Pressley, "the Clerk" (she does not name DeBeauvoir) told Marr, "We're here to do show-and-tell [of the new system] and not going to answer those questions." Commented Pressley, "What we have is the same Clerk, the same intention to operate with bad unconstitutional and illegal behaviors, just a different trailer park election with a new, $9M set of voting equipment." (It is unclear what this "trailer park" metaphor refers to.)

DeBeauvoir offers a different version of the exchange. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the new system to some 250 election judges, she told the Chronicle, not to relitigate Pressley's "discredited theories." When Marr (encouraged by Press­ley, attending as a "guest") tried to do otherwise, "I did stop him. We welcomed questions about the new system, but when she tries to hijack these meetings, to make them about her theories and her fundraising ... she's going to continue to be disappointed in me."

In Pressley's telling, she "prevailed" at the Supreme Court because its ruling withdrew the substantial fines levied against her by lower courts for claims the TSC decided were not actually "frivolous" on their face. That leniency has apparently emboldened serial litigant Pressley, who warned: "It does look like Travis County is cruising for another lawsuit." A subsequent press release (issued March 11 by Andy Hogue, also the spokesman for the Travis County Republican Party) claimed Casar now owes Pressley $18,000 in court costs; according to the official "Bill of Costs" issued by the Supreme Court, the actual total is $255.

Not everyone is as credulous as the Texas Supreme Court. As reported by Peter Mont­gomery of Right Wing Watch on March 6, a panel at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference reiterated long-debunked GOP claims of widespread voter fraud and excoriated Democratic attempts to protect voting rights. Asked about Press­ley's endless election challenges, however, conservative journalist John Fund responded that Pressley has an "overactive imagination."

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