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Candidate in new DFW congressional district asks for federal monitors


The following ran in the March 13, 2012, edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Political Scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

March 22, 2012

By Anna M. Tinsley

A candidate running for the new congressional district in North Texas is already asking federal officials to send observers for the May 29 primaries -- at least in Dallas County -- to make sure there are no problems with voter fraud.

Dallas activist Carlos Quintanilla said Tuesday that he is sending a letter to the Justice Department's voting rights division asking it to intervene and send workers to at least the Dallas portion of District 33 to ensure that the election process is open, transparent and legal.

"The only way we can get independent monitors for the election is to ask the Justice Department to send observers. They would make sure there is no intimidation at polls, no harvesting of ballots," said Quintanilla, a Democrat and Latino activist. "We think we are doing the right thing. And we're hoping the other candidates will support this."

Quintanilla is one of 13 candidates -- 11 Democrats and two Republicans -- in the race for this minority-majority district that stretches from Fort Worth's Stockyards to Dallas' Oak Cliff neighborhood and resembles the district once represented by former U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas. At least one candidate isn't sure Quintanilla's request sets the right tone for the beginning of the campaign.

"I think that obviously there are a number of candidates in this race and there will be a number of concerns," said Fort Worth City Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, who is also running for the seat. "To even consider that [request] is to characterize the race ... [as having] mudslinging and voter fraud.

"That's not the way to go so early in this process," she said....

Even though voter fraud has been an issue in North Texas, that doesn't mean Quintanilla's request will be successful, said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

"He's trying to put a spotlight on himself by calling for federal monitors to be brought to Dallas," Jillson said.

"There have been a series of relatively modest voter fraud kinds of investigations ... but I don't think the Justice Department will put federal monitors into Dallas."...

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