HOUSTON, TX – Friday afternoon at an early polling place located at 6719 W. Montgomery Road in Houston, NAACP members were seen advocating for President Barack Obama according to volunteer poll watchers on location at the time.
According to Eve Rockford, a poll watcher trained by voter integrity group True the Vote, three NAACP members showed up to the 139 precinct location with 50 cases of bottled water and began handing bottles out to people standing in line. While wearing NAACP labeled clothing, members were “stirring the crowd” and talking to voters about flying to Ohio to promote President Barack Obama.
After watching what was occurring, Rockford approached Polling Supervisor Rose Cochran about what she was seeing.
“I went to the polling supervisor and let her know that it was not appropriate that they were in the building handing out water. She ignored me. I repeated my statement. She told me that she would handle it. She did nothing. I then went to the assistant supervisor and he stood up, walked over to another table and then sat down. I then walked into the waiting room and they were reloading another dolly with more cases of water,” Rockford said in a True the Vote incident report.
After handing out water and advocating for President Obama, the NAACP members started handpicking and moving people to the front of a long voting line inside the polling place according to the incident report. After multiple complaints from voters about the line cutting, Rockford received a phone call from downtown telling her to “stand down.”
“All of the sudden one of the clerks, Dayan Cohen, said that someone wanted to speak to me on the phone. It was someone from downtown. I got on the phone and she said she was from downtown and that I needed to stand down and that it was okay for the NAACP to be within 100 ft. and they could hand out water. I told her that the NAACP was inside the building, wearing the NAACP clothing and caps and were handing out water and moving people from the back of the lines to the front of the lines,” Rockford said.
At this point, NAACP members were instructed to turn their clothing inside out, which they refused to do and said they weren’t going to stop their actions inside the polling place. Their behavior and actions to move people to the front of the line continued for the rest of the evening. Texas State Representative Sylvester Turner, a former Texas NAACP leader, was also seen outside the building talking with voters.
“The NAACP basically ran this poll location and the judges did nothing about it,” Rockford said.