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Monday, November 5, 2012

True the Vote: Keeping Our Elections Free and Clean

HOUSTON, TX - The 2012 election will be the first in 30 years where the country will see a large organized presence dedicated to the integrity of votes cast, all thanks to voter integrity group True the Vote.

During the 2008 election cycle, Catherine Engelbrecht volunteered at the polls in Harris County, the second largest voting block in Texas. She noticed that although she was there with a small group of people to observe, Harris County had a poll watcher shortage of at least 50 percent. There weren’t enough people observing the election process to prevent fraud. Shortly after her experiences at the polls, Harris County authorities found 23,000 invalid voter registration forms that had been submitted by an ACORN operative. It was then that Engelbrecht founded True the Vote, where she now serves as president. The mission of True the Vote is simple: prevent voter fraud and uphold the law.

“We recognized there was a problem,” Engelbrecht tells Townhall. “There are raging debates about Cap and Trade and healthcare and you name it, but if the election process isn’t trustworthy, if it’s not reliable, then you know what does any of it really matter? It’s a scary thought to think about how tenuous, how fragile the process really is but it was so clear that something was not right and the quickest fix was to remind citizens that voting was not enough.”

Engelbrecht and True the Vote volunteers quickly started to identify how citizens could get further involved with the election process by looking at the process as a whole. Poll watching was an easy way to get a large amount of people involved in the election process.

“What got my attention is the simple fact that this where it all starts. If we cannot freely and fairly elect our representatives, nothing from there goes the way the citizens of the country want it to go, that’s the beginning,” True the Vote volunteer Joni Carlisle, who uses vacation time to help the organization 14 hours a day, tells Townhall. “We’re making a huge difference.”

By Election Day 2010, True the Vote had trained 1,000 poll watchers who could be used by election officials to observe polling stations in Harris County. Training of everyday citizens was then expanded across the country to further prevent voter fraud.

“We didn’t look for it to be a national thing, we just thought, ‘We see a problem and we need to fix it,’” Engelbrecht says. “We really decided we would become the boutique provider of in depth, real life training opportunities and it seemed to resonate across the country in ways that we could have never imagined.”

Read the full column

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