One week after the 2020 presidential election was called for Joe Biden, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick put his money where his mouth was and offered a hefty bounty to voter fraud whistleblowers. The PAC Texans for Dan Patrick was willing to pay up to $1 million and a minimum of $25,000 to “anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and final conviction of voter fraud.” The Dallas Morning News reports that Patrick issued his first $25,000 check this week to a poll worker in Pennsylvania.
That poll worker, Eric Frank, comes from a family of progressives. His father is an election judge and mother works for Pennsylvania Democrats as a campaign manager. Frank’s father was the person he notified when he saw that 72-year-old Ralph Thurman cast a second ballot some 45 minutes after initially voting.
The Daily Local News notes that Thurman, a registered Republican, asked if he could cast a vote for his son, a registered Democrat, but was told doing so would be illegal. He nonetheless returned wearing sunglasses and tried to pass himself off as his son. Thurman eventually pleaded guilty to repeat voting in elections and was sentenced to three years probation. He will be unable to vote for four years.
“It’s my belief that they were trying to get cases of Democrats doing voter fraud. And that just wasn’t the case,” Frank told the Dallas Morning News after depositing his check. “This kind of blew up in their face.”
So far, Patrick has been absolutely silent about the payout. There’s no mention of it on either his campaign or lieutenant governor website and nothing related to the reward posted on his Twitter account. The controversial Republican, who once said he and any other grandparents should be willing to die from COVID-19 to keep the country moving forward during the pandemic, could very well feel embarrassed given how he was roundly mocked by Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman when news of the bounty program first came out.
Fetterman isn’t kidding: The man who tried using his dead mother’s name to receive an additional absentee ballot pleaded guilty to violations relating to absentee or mail-in ballots, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to six months probation and 40 hours of community service. Fetterman isn’t getting a cut of the bounty pot because Patrick’s spokesman said it doesn’t apply to politicians.
There have been very few verifiable instances of voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election. According to a Bloomberg Law report, just 200 cases around the country went to court. Nearly half of the states polled reported no cases at all. Yet, conspiracies of rampant voter fraud remain a key issue for right-wing voters and even GOP candidates. A Reuters report examining 15 Republican secretary of state candidates in five battleground states found that 10 still questioned the outcome of the 2020 election.
It’s not the people who intend to vote twice or circumvent the system that are the problem. It’s the many voters who face extensive obstacles even to cast a legal ballot in the first place. Urge lawmakers to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act to ensure that every citizen has the right to vote.