Reading between the lines
At a time when the current Republican administration is (in)famously pushing the voter fraud agenda on the Department of Justice (seemingly setting quotas for prosecutions, wether there are real cases of voter fraud to prosecute or not), I thought this press release from Project Vote was interesting:
Washington, DC–Late last week, the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) published its biennial report (PDF) to Congress on the impact of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). This report includes data on various aspects of voter registration in the past two years. These most recent numbers strongly indicate that many states continue to ignore the requirement (Section 7 of the NVRA) that public assistance agencies offer voter registration to clients, while enforcement of the law by the Department of Justice has been virtually non-existent.
Between initial implementation of the law in 1995-1996 and 2005-2006, the EAC’s numbers indicate an 80 percent nationwide decrease in voter registrations from public assistance agencies. Nine states reported decreases of 90 percent or more. States only registered half as many voters in public assistance agencies in 2005-2006 as they did as recently as 2003-2004. With only 59 percent of citizens in households making less than $15,000 registered to vote–compared to 85 percent in households making $75,000 or more–voter registration in public assistance agencies is an increasingly important tool to ensure all eligible citizens are able to participate in the democratic process.
Efforts by our organizations also indicate that when states adequately implement the law, voter registrations in public assistance agencies increase significantly. Recently, after working with us, North Carolina’s public assistance agencies registered 11 percent more clients in the single month of February 2007 than in the entire year of 2005.
(File this away in your brain for later: poor people usually register and vote Democratic.)
But it’s a good thing the DOJ (Department of Justice, run by Dubya’s BFF) has been so diligent prosecuting voter fraud, or else the integrity of our electoral system would really be in a pickle. In 2002 George and his merry band set out to restore the integrity of your vote. His Department of Justice (then headlined by the vocal stylings of John Ashcroft), launched an initiative to crack down on voter fraud. You may have heard some of the fall-out from that initiative. Remember the U.S. attorneys who were fired for not following up on voter fraud? Apparently the DOJ was taking fraud REALLY, REALLY seriously.
It’s too bad it didn’t amount to much. In five years of running the election process through the fine tooth comb of the Federal criminal justice system, we’ve got ourselves 86 convictions. That’s right friends, of the tens of millions of ballots cast between 2002 and 2006, 86 people broke the law and were convicted by the Feds.
I don’t know about your math, but that’s a pretty freaking small percentage.
The fact is there are a lot of stories floating around about voter fraud. The problem is many of these stories are little more than just stories. Many, many of them don’t withstand scrutiny. The fact is there have been a number of academic studies which show the epidemic of voter fraud isn’t just a myth, it’s used as a tool to discriminate against the poor (who just happen to vote Democratic).
So we have a Republican administration that is seemingly cherry picking which election laws it wants to enforce. One set of laws are (allegedly) not being enforced – with actual, honest to goodness proof to back the allegations up – to no avail. The other set of laws are being enforced vigorously. Careers at the DOJ have ended over the struggle. And yet, there’s little real evidence that the laws being rigorously enforced are actually being broken (in anything close to resembling the amount of attention they’re getting).
You tell me, can it be coincidence that both these moves (or lack of any, depending on the circumstance) benefits the Republican party?
Now, tell me again that playing politics at the Department of Justice is perfectly appropriate.