No Comment — September 12, 2007, 12:08 pm

The DOJ ‘Voter Fraud’ Fraud Marches On

Alberto Gonzales is down to his last couple of days as Attorney General, he appears to be focusing his attention on the 2008 elections. What, you might ask, does the Gonzales Justice Department have to do with the next election? Plenty. And they have a clear, predictable objective. In fact it happens to align perfectly with the objective and plans of the Republican Party.

The G.O.P./DOJ plan is simple: the fewer voters the better. In particular they would like to see voter rolls purged where Democratic registration is strong and Republican registration is weak. This process will eliminate some duplicate or improper registrations. It will also disenfranchise thousands of legitimate, properly registered voters who will show up on Election Day to vote and discover that their names no longer appear on the rolls. And a disproportionate portion of these voters will be Black, Latino, or residents of precincts which have a suspicious habit of supporting Democrats. The G.O.P./DOJ view is apparently that these voters are the enemy.

Steve Rosenfeld reports:

The Department of Justice’s Voting Section is pressuring 10 states to purge voter rolls before the 2008 election based on statistics that former Voting Section attorneys and other experts say are flawed and do not confirm that those states have more voter registrations than eligible voters, as the department alleges.

Voting Section Chief John Tanner called for the purges in letters sent this spring under an arcane provision in the National Voter Registration Act, better known as the Motor Voter law, whose purpose is to expand voter registration. The identical letters notify states that 10 percent or more of their election jurisdictions have problematic voter rolls. It tells states to report “the subsequent removal from rolls of persons no longer eligible to vote.”

“That data does not say what they purport it says,” said David Becker, People for the American Way Foundation’s senior voting rights counsel and a former Voting Section senior trial attorney, after reviewing the letters and statistics used to call for the purges. “They are saying the data shows the 10 worst voter rolls. They have a lot of explaining to do.”

“You are basically seeing them grasping at whatever straws are possible to make their point,” said Kim Brace, a consultant who helped the U.S. Election Assistance Commission prepare its 2004 National Voter Registration Act report, which contains the data tables cited by the Voting Section letter to identify the errant states.

Generally, what we see around the country now is that the DOJ, which once stood as a guard dog for the integrity of elections and the access of the historically disenfranchised to the voting process, now lines up as a good trooper to pursue to the political interests of the Republican Party.

Alabama Makes The Case
There’s no better example of its brazen political intervention in service of the G.O.P. cause than in Alabama, which should come as no surprise to those who read this column. Alabama missed the deadline for implementing a statewide voter registration database. As usual, the DOJ takes strikingly different positions on failures to comply depending on which party controls the statehouse. Alabama being deep, dark red and in the hands of Republican Governor Bob Riley, is entitled to every indulgence and support. It was given until August 31, 2007, to set up the statewide voter registration database.

The issue was bitterly contested between Gov. Riley and Alabama’s senior elections officer, Secretary of State Nancy Worley. The DOJ, of course, intervened aggressively to support the Governor at every turn. It even applied in federal court to move control over the program from the Democratic Secretary of State to the Republican Governor—an almost unprecedented move, viewed by most observers as a brazen power grab. And what in the Justice Department’s view justified the shift of power and authority for elections away from the state official responsible for elections, and to the titular head of the G.O.P. in Alabama? I’m sure it had to do with how Riley came to office in the first place. When the tallying of the vote ended on election night 2002, Don Siegelman was re-elected governor. Then something strange happened. Baldwin County, the state’s G.O.P. bastion, reported that 12,000 votes were being switched to Riley’s column as a result of a “computer glitch.” But independent scholars who have looked at the facts, including an Auburn University statistician, see something else. There was only one possible explanation for this “glitch”–the criminal manipulation of the voting equipment. And that’s how Riley arrived in the Alabama statehouse. And no doubt why, in the view of the DOJ, he should exercise the functions the law gives to the secretary of state. Worley, a Democrat, was disqualified.

So how did the judge, George W. Bush-appointee Keith Watkins, handle this? He appointed Governor Riley as special master with power to handle the matter. The New York Times called the proceedings a “kangaroo court.” And indeed it was. Here’s how an independent voting monitor described what went on:

The Justice Department and the Alabama attorney general, Troy King, both argued that Governor Riley should control the voter database. Mr. King, a Republican, was appointed to his job by Governor Riley after serving as his legal adviser, and when Ms. Worley (pictured at left) realized that Mr. King would not represent her interests, she asked him to let her hire a lawyer to argue her side but the judge refused. Watkins also denied motions by Democratic Party Chair Joe Turnham and Alabama Democratic Conference Chair Joe Reed to intervene in the case arguing that the process had proceeded in a “non-partisan” fashion in the case and that the HAVA Committee, bi-partisan and composed of 23 individuals, was the “model to implement.”

That’s “justice in Alabama,” election-law edition. As usual, it is justice of, by, and for the Republican Party of Alabama. The DOJ marches arm-in-arm to the altar with the Alabama G.O.P. And a George W. Bush-appointee judge celebrates the matrimonial ceremony.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

Feburary 2017

Trump: A Resister’s Guide

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Little Things

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Patient War

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Remainers

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

JB & FD

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Blood and Soil

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Illustration (detail) by Steve Brodner
Article
The Patient War·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
Photograph (detail) © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Redux
Article
Little Things·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
Photograph (detail) of miniatures by Lori DeBacker by Thomas Allen
Article
Blood and Soil·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
Illustration (detail) by Nate Kitch
Article
JB & FD·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson

Price of ten pencils made from “recycled twigs,” from the Nature Company:

$39.50

A loggerhead turtle in a Kobe aquarium at last achieved swimming success with her twenty-seventh set of prosthetic fins. “When her children hatch,” said the aquarium’s director, “well, I just feel that would make all the trauma in her life worthwhile.”

In Colombia, U.N. delegates sent to serve as impartial observers of the peace process aimed at ending the half-century-long war between the FARC and the Colombian government were chastised after they were filmed dancing and getting drunk with FARC fighters at a New Year’s Eve party.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today