Conroe, February 26 – The Publisher of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, which is dedicated to reduce government spending and taxes, has filed a complaint with Montgomery County Elections Administrator Suzie Harvey and Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Walter Wilkerson, Jr., complaining that the so-called “Conservative Republicans of Texas sample ballot” is actual just a political advertisement intended to electioneer inside polling places for Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and County Judge Craig Doyal. Riley paid $12,000 for the CRT political advertisement which is nothing more than a “Pay to Play” political leaflet.
The Publisher, Eric Yollick, filed the Complaint on Saturday, February 24, 2018. On Sunday, February 25, 2018, Yollick supplemented the Complaint with notice that Yollick would appeal the matter to the Secretary of State of Texas in the event the Elections Administrator, Judge Fessenden, and Dr. Wilkerson did not take action to keep the illegal advertisement outside of the polling places.
Yollick’s formal Complaint follows.
Honorable Suzie Harvey, Elections AdministratorWalter Wilkerson, Jr., M.D., Montgomery County Republican Party ChairmanDear Ms. Harvey and Dr. Wilkerson,As you may know, I’m a Republican and a conservative. I also believe in the integrity of elections, which happens to be Plank 59 of the Republican Party of Texas Platform. For those reasons, I am submitting this complaint to you.Carrying the “Conservative Republicans of Texas Sample Ballot” is unlawful electioneering for a candidate and for a political party under Section 61.003 of the Texas Election Code. I request that you immediately discontinue permitting individuals to carry this item into polling areas, as, I understand, you do not permit the carrying of candidate literature into polling places. I further request that you instruct Election Judges and Election Pollworkers also to discontinue permitting that item into the polling place.The following is a more complete analysis of this issue.The basic rule is that one cannot electioneer in a polling place, which includes the area within 100 feet of a polling place. Electioneering means the posting, use, or distribution of political signs or literature. Tex. Elec. Code. Section 61.003. The prohibition applies to electioneering “for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.” It’s important to read the entire phrase “electioneering for or against any candidate, measure, or political party” together, because the prohibition does not apply to mere “electioneering.” In other words, I could go into a polling booth and secretly use written materials, and there’s nothing wrong with that.The Texas Secretary of State has promulgated this guidance:
“Voters are allowed to bring written materials into voting stations to assist them in casting their ballot. However, it is important to remember that the prohibition on electioneering within 100-feet of the polling place does apply to written materials. Election judges and early voting clerks may use their discretion in determining if a voter is electioneering for or against any candidate, measure or political party through the use of written materials.”Texas follows the same general rule as most other states. An individual may carry a written material into the polling place to assist the individual with voting. That could include just about anything as long as that’s all the written material does. If the written material communicates a message to others, however, then electioneering is occurring.So let’s look at the statute and a specific example.Sec. 61.003. ELECTIONEERING AND LOITERING NEAR POLLING PLACE. (a) A person commits an offense if, during the voting period and within 100 feet of an outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which a polling place is located, the person:(1) loiters; or(2) electioneers for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.(a-1) The entity that owns or controls a public building being used as a polling place may not, at any time during the voting period, prohibit electioneering on the building’s premises outside of the area described in Subsection (a), but may enact reasonable regulations concerning the time, place, and manner of electioneering.(b) In this section:(1) “Electioneering” includes the posting, use, or distribution of political signs or literature. The term does not include the distribution of a notice of a party convention authorized under Section 172.1114.(2) “Voting period” means the period beginning when the polls open for voting and ending when the polls close or the last voter has voted, whichever is later.(c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.If Jon hands Eric a Mark Keough push card, Eric could probably bring that material into the polling place to remember to vote for Mark Keough under Section 61.003, if Eric doesn’t flash it around so others could see it. Nevertheless, election judges have the discretion to determine if materials’ “use” might occur. Once the “use” occurs in any way other than to assist one voter, then there is unlawful electioneering. As a result, election judges in Texas almost unanimously prohibit candidate flyers or push cards.If Eric just keeps the Mark Keough push card to himself, then he is using the card which falls within the definition of “electioneering” but he is not electioneering “for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.” If Eric flashes the push card around so others in the polling place can see it, however, then Eric is electioneering for Keough.The “Conservative Republicans of Texas” voter guide presents a problem that the Texas Patriots PAC and Montgomery County Tea Party voter guides do not present. Specifically, the word “Republicans” carried into a polling place would seem to electioneer for a political party which Section 61.003(2) prohibits because the word is large enough and set apart at the top of the literature that is would be noticeable advocacy for a political party. Second, the photographs of Craig Doyal and Charlie Riley on the so-called “Sample Ballot” side are large enough that they constitute “electioneering for…any candidate,” specifically Doyal and Riley.In comparison, the voter guides of both the Texas Patriots PAC and the Montgomery County Tea Party PAC do not have words large enough that they might cause “electioneering for…any candidate, measure, or political party.” There is no visible advocacy either for the Republican Party or for particular candidates that is viewable by anyone other than the individual holding the pamphlet.Under the Secretary of State guidance and under Section 61.003 of the Texas Election Code, Election Judges in Montgomery County should not permit individuals to carry the “Conservative Republicans of Texas Sample Ballot” into the area within 100 feet, because of the problems noted above.The Conservative Republicans of Texas Sample Ballot is the equivalent of permitting someone to carry in an 18×24 inch yard sign into the polling place while claiming they’re using it as a sample ballot. If I write the words “voter guide” on the yard sign, that doesn’t make it a voter guide. It’s electioneering for a candidate, measure, or political party inside the polling place.I’m a conservative. I’m a Republican. I also believe in elections that are fair and conducted with integrity (as do other Republicans who follow our Platform). While I believe the CRT ballot has many other problems with it as well, those other concerns do not go to the merits of this complaint.Respectfully submitted,/s/ericyollick/s/Eric Yollick Private CitizenThe Woodlands, Texas