The Texas Observer: Following Observer Story, Voting Rights Group Asks DOJ to Investigate West Texas Sheriff

Alex Hannaford
May 5, 2016
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A voting rights organization based in Washington, D.C., has called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate possible voter intimidation in Edwards County, following the publication of an Observer investigation into a West Texas sheriff.

In a letter to the head of the DOJ’s civil rights division, the Voting Rights Institute said it had “come to our attention that minority voters in Edwards County, Texas, are allegedly being intimidated by the local sheriff. We call upon the Department of Justice to conduct a federal investigation of this matter to ensure the protection of Latino voting rights.”

The Voting Rights Institute, a joint project of several legal groups, including the Georgetown University Law Center, highlighted the Observer’s description of an Edwards County Democratic Party meeting in 2014 in which Elliott, together with deputies and assorted supporters, surrounded the house where the meeting was being held. One eyewitness described the crowd outside the house as an “angry mob.”

According to the letter from the National Voting Rights Institute:

The actions of Sheriff Elliott to date strongly suggest that she is engaging in targeted actions to intimidate Latino voters. Because we are deeply concerned that Elliott, who has an opponent in the Fall election, will abuse the power of her office and attempt to intimidate Latino voters, we ask the Department of Justice to conduct a full investigation and take appropriate action.

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