State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, says he didn't vote twice in the 2004 elections and disputes the Texas and Virginia records that say he did. Birdwell's voting records are the subject of this story, and we gave him ample opportunity to talk about them before publishing. Short form: Two days before the story ran, we got his chief of staff Casey Kelley copies of the records in question and asked for an interview in person or on the phone with Birdwell. The night before the story ran, they instead emailed a short statement which we included in full in the story. Once the story ran on the Tribune's website, in the Waco Herald-Tribune and in the Austin American-Statesman, Birdwell decided he had more to say. That's pasted below.
Statement of Sen. Brian Birdwell
“There are inaccurate news reports published today which contain false information concerning my voting record. Let me be crystal clear. I have never, ever voted twice in the same election, and that charge is particularly offensive to a soldier who holds the voting process as honored and sacred. Basically, this news story would have people believe that on Election Day in 2004, I voted in Virginia, then got on a plane and flew to Texas so I could cast a second vote for George W. Bush. I did not.
The reports mention that my full name is Brian Douglas Birdwell, and my brother’s name, which appeared right after mine on the voter roll in Tarrant County, is Douglas Todd Birdwell. Because of the similarity of our names, I believe there was an incorrect coding of which brother actually voted in person in Texas on November 2, 2004. My brother knows that he did vote in the general election in 2004 but the reports indicate that he did not.
The truth is that, despite the implication that today’s story presents ‘new’ information, this false claim concerning my voting record was presented to the Texas Secretary of State nearly four months ago when my candidacy was initially challenged, then certified. The allegation was false then and it's false now.”
Birdwell still hasn't addressed the residency questions raised in the story. He voted in the November 2006 election in Virginia, and if that establishes him as a resident there, it means that he hasn't been in Texas for the legally required five years to become a state senator. That would have to be the subject of a court challenge to threaten his position and so far, no opponents have filed that court challenge. August 20 is the last date to remove a candidate and replace them on the ballot, so a challenge would have to be resolved by then (unless the courts were to move the deadline).
And Birdwell didn't dispute any of the reporting in the story; he disagreed with the records in Virginia and Texas, but didn't point out any inaccuracies in the reporting.