HOUSTON -- A poll watcher in the Acres Homes community of Houston claims she saw something troubling during last week’s early voting.
“I love America,” says Eve Rockford. “I want every vote to count. I want to make sure that when people come to the door and they stand in line for two hours, their vote counts.”
She has been a poll watcher for years, and what she says she saw at the Acres Homes early voting location on Friday afternoon was new.
“I started seeing them pulling people from different areas, and when I saw them moving people right through those e-slate machines to that front desk, I was like ‘there is something seriously wrong with this,’” says Rockford.
Who was pulling voters? Rockford says it was three people wearing bright blue logo shirts of the NAACP, who she says “took over” the polling place.
State law says only voters, official poll watchers, and election officials can be within 100 feet of the polling place. That’s why election signs usually stop somewhere near the curb of a polling place.
But that’s not what happpend Friday, says Rockford.
“They are in the building. They are not a hundred feet out the door. They are inside the building.”
Houston NAACP Chapter President Rev. Reginald Liley says they were only looking to help and did not, to his knowledge, break any rules.
“If that were the case, for an elderly person who may be feeble or disabled to get assistance to stand up and exercise their right to vote, I don’t see how that should create such disdane,” says Liley.
Rockford filed her incident report with True the Vote, a Houston-area based national poll watching group, but she told Bill Ouren about problems as they were happening.
He says he called the county to report the issue.
“I was absolutely astonished that the county did not take control of that situation,” says Ouren.
The story has received national attention on right-leaning blogs, even showing up on the Drudge Report. Some talk was critical of Rockford for not doing more to record the alleged violations.
“When you are a poll watcher, you can’t have a camera,” says Rockford. “You can’t make a phone call. You are there to watch and take notes. That is it. Observe.”
Those observations are now cause for national debate.