P.O. Box 2975, Fredericksburg TX 78624

Turtle on a Fence Post

I have worked in elections for over 40 years. Early on I got involved in “ballot security” sometimes called “election integrity”. It was then that I was told that election fraud was, “like a turtle on a fence post.” You know it didn’t get there by itself, and you can’t prove who put it there.”

We take all kinds of precautions in life. My cars are insured in case we have an accident or around here, hit a deer. After the snowmageddon three years ago, I added solar panels to my house. I wanted to be ready next time. We take CPR to be prepared to help someone if needed. We have fire drills. A few years ago, a neighbor performed the Heimlich maneuver on me when I got choked. It saved my life. I was a high school teacher. I had to implement procedures when giving a test so no student would be tempted to cheat.

Fraud is a big problem these days. Commercials are telling you to protect yourself from title theft, and identity theft. Most of us have security features on our personal computers to prevent hacking, yet people and even large companies get hacked and sometimes the hacker installs ransomware and people must pay to regain access to their files.

We have procedures in elections to prevent election fraud. If you vote by mail, you must request a ballot by signing a request. When your voter information is verified, you receive a ballot. When you mail your ballot back in, you must include identifying information and sign the envelope. A ballot board verifies to see if the requested signature matches the returning signature. It protects you from having your ballot intercepted and voted by someone else. Ballots are only sent to verified voters who request them.

Mail ballots must be returned postmarked no later than 7 PM on election day. That way no one knows the vote count before they mail their ballot.

Before the election, the voting machine software is checked to see if any lines of code have been changed.

When you vote in person you must show ID to make sure it is you voting. We have to do the same thing in a lot of places including airports, schools, and government buildings.

When votes are being processed and counted in a general election, workers from both parties are present. Poll watchers are often present. They are often assigned by candidates on the ballot to watch for and report any irregularities.

When election machines are used, a random hand count of several races in several precincts is performed to check the accuracy of the machine count.

We thought our elections were secure until we witnessed the 2020 election.

In several swing states, laws were changed in the months before the election removing the ballot security measures. Signature verification of mail-in ballots was removed. Ballots were sent to everyone with no way of knowing if the voter still lived at that address or if they had moved away or even died. Ballots were not required to be returned until days after the election when the current count of the election would be known. Often, only workers from one party were allowed in the vote processing area. Poll watchers were barred from getting close enough to view the process. Many of the procedures that were in place to prevent fraud had been dismantled.

In one small town that tends to vote 80% for one party, the machine count was the opposite and was 80% for the other party. The town demanded a hand count which was done, and the vote was backward. They had voted the opposite of what had been reported.

Some people tried to present evidence of manipulation of machines, but in each case, their evidence was never heard because it was said they did not have “standing”.

There were many anecdotal stories like this, but in the end, it was like the turtle on the fence post. There was no way this happened by itself, and there was no way to prove who put it there. It was swept under the rug and anyone who dared to mention or question any of it was ridiculed, harassed, and canceled. No First Amendment here. Sit down and shut up.

The lesson learned was if you wait until after fraud occurs, it’s too late. Nobody will do anything.

Our party debated and decided to hand count the ballots in the March 5 primary. The City of Fredericksburg had been hand counting its ballots for several elections without controversy. We met with the city secretary and took notes on what we needed to do. People stepped up and took leadership roles to train hand counters, develop procedures, and design forms that would be needed. At times there was heated debate on how best to make this happen. All the while we faced attacks from the media that our effort was ill-advised. A so-called university professor “election expert”, who makes regular donations to left-wing extreme groups according to financial reporting services, said our plan was a “recipe for disaster”. Others said we faced a “reprimand” from the state. (The state never said that to us.) Nay-sayers said it would take days or weeks for us to count.

Meanwhile, we kept preparing. Nearly 300 people, most of whom had never worked in an election before, stepped up and took multiple training classes to get prepared. We had an audacious goal to finish counting in all precincts by 8:30 PM. Our first precinct reported at about 10:30 PM and most of the others came in over the next couple of hours. Our Early Voting Ballot Board took longer as they had to count over 4000 ballots from early voting and mail-in ballots. But they did it. The last precinct came in after midnight. I was the last one in the party to leave the election office at 5:13 AM.

I consider our effort a success. We overcame a lot of challenges along the way. Yes, there are “glass is half-empty” type of reporters out there to whom we gave a lot of access and time, who look for anything they can say that is negative. They can live in that negative world. I don’t choose to join them there. The truth is they said we couldn’t do it and yet we did it.

Let the dogs bark, the caravan moves on.

Bruce Campbell
County Chair
Gillespie County Republican Party