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Wed Feb 19, 2014, 06:16 PM

Latest O'Keefe attack on Battleground Texas is bogus-It is not illegal to copy phone numbers

O'Keefe has another bogus video out claiming that Battleground Texas is violating the law by copying phone numbers from voter registration applications. I am not providing a link to the right wing sources citing this video because I do not want to give these sites any traffic. Some of the normal right wing nut job sites are making a big deal about this O'Keefe video including the freepers.

I am deputy voter registrar for my county and have attended a number of trainings by by the state party and my county election office. The claims by O'Keefe are bogus. Under Texas law, the phone number of an applicant is not confidential. Here the relevant Texas law from Texas Election Code Section 103.004(c) http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/EL/htm/EL.13.htm

(c) The following information furnished on a registration application is confidential and does not constitute public information for purposes of Chapter 552, Government Code:
(1) a social security number;
(2) a Texas driver's license number;
(3) a number of a personal identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety;
(4) an indication that an applicant is interested in working as an election judge; or
(5) the residence address of the applicant, if the applicant is a federal judge or state judge, as defined by Section 13.0021, or the spouse of a federal judge or state judge, and included an affidavit with the registration application under Section 13.0021 or the registrar has received an affidavit submitted under Section 15.0215.

The part of the voter registration application with the confidential information is at the top and it is easy to put a cover page over a copier that allows one to copy the non-confidential information on a voter registration application. The telephone number of a potential voter is not part of the confidential information that is protected.

There is another code section that the O'Keefe idiots are misreading. Section 103.004(d) of the Texas election code provides that the county clerk or election administrator can not publish on the website a telephone number.

d) The voter registrar or other county official who has access to the information furnished on a registration application may not post the following information on a website:
(1) a telephone number;
(2) a social security number;
(3) a driver's license number or a number of a personal identification card;
(4) a date of birth; or
(5) the residence address of a voter who is a federal judge or state judge, as defined by Section 13.0021, or the spouse of a federal judge or state judge, if the voter included an affidavit with the application under Section 13.0021 or the registrar has received an affidavit submitted under Section 15.0215.

The deputy voter registrars who are with Battleground Texas are not posting on the Secretary of State or county website the information. The data in question is not being published anywhere.

I have been at training sessions by the state party and all democratic voter registrars know what to copy and what is confidential under Texas law.

If you see the latest O'Keefe video please ignore it or post the code section that shows that O'keefe is lying about Texas election law.

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Latest O'Keefe attack on Battleground Texas is bogus-It is not illegal to copy phone numbers (Original post)
Gothmog Feb 2014 OP
Scootaloo Feb 2014 #1
stg81 Feb 2014 #2
SeattleVet Feb 2014 #3
Mark M Feb 2014 #4
gopiscrap Feb 2014 #5
msanthrope Feb 2014 #6
Gothmog Feb 2014 #7
SeattleVet Feb 2014 #8
Gothmog Feb 2014 #9
Gothmog Feb 2014 #10

Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Wed Feb 19, 2014, 06:28 PM

1. O'Keefe is LYING?!

 

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Wed Feb 19, 2014, 07:01 PM

2. they are terrified of BGTX

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Wed Feb 19, 2014, 11:33 PM

3. Missed the first part of that section...

It's section 13.004(a) that contains the prohibition on transcription, copying, or otherwise recording a telephone number:

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/EL/htm/EL.13.htm

Sec. 13.004. RECORDING AND DISCLOSURE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION BY REGISTRAR. (a) The registrar may not transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a registration application.
(b) The registrar may transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a social security number furnished on a registration application only in maintaining the accuracy of the registration records.
(c) The following information furnished on a registration application is confidential and does not constitute public information for purposes of Chapter 552, Government Code:
...

That comes before the other items that are considered confidential. While not under the 'confidential' label, there appears to be an outright bar on copying the numbers. Unfortunately, O'Keefe got this one right, and Battleground Texas may have violated the statute.

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Response to SeattleVet (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 09:50 AM

4. Mmmmmm....not entirely sure about that.....

Last edited Thu Feb 20, 2014, 10:31 AM - Edit history (1)

That is correct......but Section 13.004 deals with regulations for REGISTRARS. Is it a fact in the first place that Battleground Texas as an organisation and/or the individual employees concerned are "REGISTRARS" as defined here in the Texas Election Code?......

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/?link=EL

See section 12.001

Sec.12.001.AADESIGNATION OF VOTER REGISTRAR. The county
tax assessor-collector is the voter registrar for the county unless
the position of county elections administrator is created or the
county clerk is designated as the voter registrar.
Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

"If" they are not REGISTRARS it is by no means certain that this regulation actually applies to them. If for example they are merely an organisation or individuals assisting individuals fill out registration forms it might not apply to them. There then may of course be something other than SEC 13.004 that makes it illegal for them to do it but O'Keefe's claim is quite specific which must mean that he thinks they are designated "REGISTRARS" as defined in the Code.......or that he is wrong in it being illegal under 13.004.

Somebody else mentioned Deputy Registrars. I'm not sure if BG or the employees are in fact DR's in a formal sense and as defined in the Code, but even "if" they are, there doesn't seem to be a specific corresponding regulation for what DR's may do with telephone number info before it reaches the Registrar, despite there being various other specific do's and don'ts set out for DR's.

If for example they are categorised under the Code as Volunteer Deputy Registrars, which seems a possibility, I see nothing in the Code to make it illegal for them to copy information from the registration form, including a telephone number, before passing it to the REGISTRAR.


The Texas Secretary of State's Office website says this on the subject in the FAQ section of its Volunteer Deputy Registrar Guide:

Q: May I photocopy a completed application before turning it in to the county voter registrar?

A: No. Section 13.004(c-1) of the Code requires the county voter registrar to ensure that certain information, such as the telephone number, on a registration application is redacted from photocopies of voter registration applications from her office. In our opinion, this means that a photocopy of an application must come directly from the county voter registrar’s office, so that he or she may ensure the required information has been blacked out or otherwise obscured. With that said, we believe that a volunteer deputy registrar may photocopy the receipt. You may also copy the relevant information from the application in writing just as you would be able to do if you went to the registrar’s office and pulled a copy of the original application.

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Response to Mark M (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 10:48 AM

5. welcome to DU

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Response to Mark M (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 10:59 AM

6. Welcome to DU!! nt

 

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Response to SeattleVet (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 04:11 PM

7. It is not clear that this section applies to deputy voter registrars used by Battleground

I saw that section but it applies to the county and it is not clear that it applies to deputy registrars. See http://www.texastribune.org/2014/02/19/election-officials-question-battleground-activitie/

A Democratic election law expert, Buck Wood of Austin, expressed doubt that any crime occurred. He said the plain language of the statute makes it clear that the volunteer registrars are not considered to be county officials. He said the law was intended to ensure the government isn’t disseminating private information and doesn’t address what volunteers who get a phone number from a would-be voter at a county fair booth, for example, can do with the information.

Wood said only the Legislature would have the power to change the law to make the criminal provision apply to volunteer registrars.

“They could define it as being improper,” Wood said. “I don’t think you’d ever be able to reach them criminally.”

See also http://www.newscorpse.com/ncWP/?p=11547

The only problem with O’Keefe’s allegation is that it is utterly false. What O’Keefe did was to clip a portion of the Texas election code that says “The registrar may not transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a registration application.” What he either fails to understand, or is deliberately misrepresenting, is that this section of the law applies only to the Registrar of Voters and other county officials. It does not apply to the volunteers or organizations that distribute and collect voter registration forms. In fact, the Texas Secretary of State website addresses this matter directly in their “Frequently Asked Questions” for volunteers:

Q: May I photocopy a completed application before turning it in to the county voter registrar?

A: No. Section 13.004(c-1) of the Code requires the county voter registrar to ensure that certain information, such as the telephone number, on a registration application is redacted from photocopies of voter registration applications from her office. In our opinion, this means that a photocopy of an application must come directly from the county voter registrar’s office, so that he or she may ensure the required information has been blacked out or otherwise obscured. With that said, we believe that a volunteer deputy registrar may photocopy the receipt. You may also copy the relevant information from the application in writing just as you would be able to do if you went to the registrar’s office and pulled a copy of the original application.

So actual photocopies are not allowed, but manually recording the data is expressly permitted. And that’s all that Battleground Texas is doing. The purpose of the applicable code is to prohibit confidential voter information from being published or otherwise made public by people on the government payroll who could have motive and opportunity to abuse their power. But Battleground Texas is not a government agency, nor are they publishing any of the data. Also, the information defined as confidential is specified in the code and includes things like the social security number and driver’s license number, but not the phone number.

The information with the voter's driver's license number and/or social security number is at the top of the voter registration form and so it is easy to have a piece of paper on the copier that cuts off that part of the voter registration application letting one copy the rest of the application.

I think that James O'Keefe is not telling the whole truth here and that this video is misleading

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 22, 2014, 05:18 PM

8. Ah - thanks for the explanation.

I got suckered by O'Keefe's video, and thought that the volunteers were 'registrars', just like he wanted us to believe. Insidious bastard snookered me!

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Wed Feb 26, 2014, 03:05 PM

9. Battleground fights back and proves me right

Battleground has responded to the claims of O'Keefe and their lawyers agree with my position that Texas law was not broken. Here is the letter from the lawyers for Battleground on this issue https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxeOfQQnUr_gcGVSQURDelZSXzg/edit?pli=1 The same firm that represents President Obama is representing Battleground. This response is well done. Here is a link to one of the opinions from Greg Abbott that is cited in this letter https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/openrecords/50abbott/orl/2010/htm/or201008083.htm

You also argue the voters' telephone numbers and dates of birth are excepted from disclosure, and highlight language in sections 13.004(a) and 13.004(d) of the Election Code. However, for information to be confidential under section 552.101, the provision of law must explicitly require confidentiality. A confidentiality requirement will not be inferred from a provision's structure. See Open Records Decision Nos. 658 at 4 (1998) (stating that statutory confidentiality provision must be express and confidentiality requirement will not be implied from statutory structure), 478 at 2 (1987) (stating that, as general rule, statutory confidentiality requires express language making information confidential), 465 at 4-5 (1987). Section 13.004(a) prohibits the county from transcribing, copying, or recording a voter's telephone number. See Elec. Code § 13.004(a). Section 13.004(d) prohibits the posting of certain specified information on a website. See id. § 13.004(d). Because neither section 13.004(a) or section 13.004(d) explicitly provides that information is confidential, we find that the county may not withhold the telephone numbers and birth dates of voters from the requestor under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 13.004 of the Election Code.

It is clear that Battleground is not violating any law and that O'Keefe is lying. I also love the fact that fool Christian Adams was too stupid to read Texas law on this issue http://pjmedia.com/jchristianadams/2014/02/19/new-okeefe-video-battleground-texas-violates-election-law-to-help-wendy-davis/ Christian Adams is the idiot who was illegally hired by the bushies and had to leave the DOJ when real attorneys took over. I love it when this fool is shown to be ignorant of the law

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 06:43 PM

10. Here is a good article on the response by Battleground Texas

Here is a good article on the response by Battleground Texas to O'Keefe's latest silliness http://www.texastribune.org/2014/02/25/battleground-texas-fires-back-critics/

Allegations that Battleground Texas broke the law during its voter registration activities are “entirely without foundation,” the Democratic group wrote in a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Tuesday.

Dewhurst, citing a secretly recorded video of Battleground volunteers in Bexar County, had earlier called for a criminal investigation because of allegations that privacy laws had been broken.

But Graham Wilson, an attorney for the group, told Dewhurst in the letter that his call for a probe “reflects no familiarity with either the law” or rules promulgated by the office of the secretary of state, which handles voter registration regulations at the state level.

He said opinions from Attorney General Greg Abbott demonstrate that phone numbers gathered during the voter registration process were considered public information. Phone numbers allegedly copied down by Battleground volunteers sparked the accusations in the first place.

“In short, Battleground Texas is operating in full compliance with the law as set forth in the Attorney General’s legal opinions, and with attention paid as appropriate to the Secretary of State’s official guidance in this area,” Wilson wrote.....

The Battleground lawyer disputes that interpretation, saying the statute refers only to county officials — not the volunteers who act on their own out in the field.

As for the phone numbers, Wilson cited three opinions from the office of the attorney general, including one from 2010 stemming from a case in Dallas County. In that opinion, Abbott’s office concluded that “the county may not withhold the telephone numbers” from a requestor who had asked for the information.

Battleground also cited a pamphlet from the office of the secretary of state that says in part that a volunteer deputy registrar “may also copy the relevant information from the application in writing just as you would be able to do if you went to the registrar’s office and pulled a copy of the original application.”

I have cited one of these opinions on this thread and to me it is clear that Battleground did nothing wrong.

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