Texas Dems to Campaigns: Play Fair
By Matthew Mosk
Many Texas Democrats knew this problem was coming.
With more than 8,000 precincts and not enough volunteers to serve as precinct captains for tonight's caucus events, the Texas Democratic Party decided that the job of chair would be handed out on what amounts to a first-come, first-served basis.
The first person in the door at 7:15 p.m. who picks up the packet of materials from the election judge at the precinct site gets to be chair.
"If you have a precinct that doesn't have a chair, the first person there picks it up and gets it. The rules are designed to create a race to the packet," said State Senator Eliot Shapleigh, a Clinton supporter who represents El Paso.
That race has apparently started even earlier. Jim Boynton, the Primary Director for the Texas Democratic Party sent a memo to the presidential campaigns (PDF) this afternoon warning that "supporters of a given campaign" -- they did not say which one -- "are requesting convention packets early. Election staff are correctly withholding the packet until 7:15PM or the last voter has cast a ballot. Supporters of a given campaign are prematurely removing packets from polling locations. Election staff have been directed to report these activities to law enforcement since they amount to criminal violations. Removing convention packets or disruption of a polling location while requesting convention packets will not be tolerated."
Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns have accused the other of this behavior. Texas Democratic Party spokesman Hector Nieto said this evening that he hopes to see both campaigns playing fair when the caucuses get underway. The way it's supposed to work is that the person who gets the packet becomes a temporary precinct chair, and their first order of business is to hold an immediate election to select the formal chair.
"These are two professional campaigns with professional organizations and we expect both to abide by the rules," Nieto said.
Web Politics Editor
March 4, 2008; 6:57 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , Primaries , The Democrats
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