(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/06/20123704456844734_20-1.gif)Last Thursday, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a new low in its efforts to prevent individual states from combating vote fraud. The state of Florida was ordered to halt its efforts to identify and purge its voter rolls of non-citizens. “Our records do not reflect that these changes affecting voting have been submitted to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for judicial review or to the Attorney General for administrative review as required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” wrote T. Christian Herren Jr., the DOJ’s lead civil rights lawyer. “Accordingly, it is necessary that they either be brought before that court or submitted to the Attorney General for a determination that they neither have the purpose nor will have the effect of discriminating on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group under Section 5.”
Florida is not backing down. Despite being given until Wednesday to decide whether or not to comply with the DOJ’s order, it took state officials only one day to reach a decision. “We have an obligation to make sure the voter rolls are accurate and we are going to continue forward and do everything that we can legally do to make sure than ineligible voters cannot vote,” said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Friday. “We are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot. We are not going to give up our efforts to make sure the voter rolls are accurate.”
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires the DOJ or or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to “preclear” changes in “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1964,” in order to prevent “denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.” Florida is one of a handful of states, predominantly in the South, covered by Section 5, due to its historical efforts to suppress minority voting. Critics contend Section 5 continues to stigmatize states that have long abandoned tactics such as requiring non-white voters to pay a poll tax or pass a literacy test. The Act contains a bailout provision for states that can demonstrate a record of good behavior, yet many counties within those states consider the cost of doing so prohibitive.
Earlier this year Secretary Detzner worked with the Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles to identify more than 2,600 people who were registered to vote despite being non-citizens at the time they applied for a driver’s license. Critics of the effort claim that many of those drivers become citizens between scheduled license renewals. They further contend that many of the warning letters sent out by state notifying these individuals that they would be purged from voter rolls unless they provided proof of citizenship within 30 days, were sent to people who were citizens.
Detzner, who contended that earlier efforts by his agency had identified 182,000 voters who were non-citizens by comparing voter rolls and driver’s license databases, revealed that he and his staff were refused access by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the federal database containing more up-to-date immigration and citizenship information. Thus, it would appear that the federal government is working at cross-purposes with itself: the DHS won’t assist Florida in its effort to be as non-discriminatory as possible, even as the DOJ insists that Florida is engaging in discrimination. And not just with respect to Section 5. The DOJ also contends Florida is violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act that requires states to maintain “accurate and current” voter registration lists “in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner.”
Yet if testimony by former DOJ Voting Section attorney J. Christian Adams before a House Judiciary Subcommittee is accurate, the DOJ’s efforts in Florida are as hypocritical as it gets. “One of the most unfortunate circumstances relating to the 2012 elections is the absence of DOJ enforcement of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act,” Adams told the Subcommittee. “Voter rolls nationwide are filled with ineligible and dead voters. Yet the Department of Justice is deliberately refusing to enforce Section 8 and require states to purge rolls because of philosophical disagreement with the purging statute. Failure to enforce Section 8 to require states and localities to clean up voter rolls presents a troubling circumstance prior to the November 2012 elections.”
Tellingly, Florida also has a problem with dead voters. 53,000 of them were discovered when the state compared voter rolls to federal Social Security files for the first time – due to the passage of a “controversial” election law by the GOP-controlled legislature. Previous effort to pass such legislation had failed. Adams notes that Florida is hardly alone. New Mexico, Iowa, Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and other states also have “corrupted voter rolls.”
In a column for _PJ Media_ Adams explains why. “In November 2009, the entire Voting Section was invited to a meeting with Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes…to discuss Motor Voter enforcement decisions. The room was packed with dozens of Voting Section employees when she made her announcement regarding the provisions related to voter list integrity: ‘We have no interest in enforcing this provision of the law. It has nothing to do with increasing turnout, and we are just not going to do it.’”
None of this matters to _The_ _Miami Herald, _which has sought to frame the issue in terms of race. They note that “two-thirds of the potential noncitizen matches so far have been in Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county with the biggest immigrant population,” and that “58% of those identified as potential noncitizens are Hispanics” even as they comprise “13 percent of the overall 11.3 million active registered voters.” Yet even the _Herald_ is forced to admit that of “the roughly 1,600 potential noncitizens in Miami-Dade furnished to The Miami Herald, about 65 percent have cast ballots. About 72 percent have cast ballots of the 262 identified in Broward. And about 30 percent of the 115 identified in Palm Beach County have voted in the past.
Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of The Advancement Project, a Washington-based voting rights advocacy group that urged the DOJ to conduct the Florida investigation, claims State Secretary Detzner is being “recalcitrant” and should “just quit” his attempt to clean up Florida’s voting rolls. She also contends that while the National Voter Registration Act requires states to make every effort to monitor and maintain accurate voter rolls, such efforts must begin 90 days prior to a federal election. Since Florida voters will vote in a primary on Aug. 14 that includes candidates seeking congressional seats, she contends they’ve missed the deadline. Florida officials counter that the Obama administration has stonewalled the state’s noncitizen voter hunt for nine months.
The latter statement is consistent with Adams’ testimony regarding the DOJ’s ideologically-inspired indifference towards cleaning up state voter rolls. It is also consistent with Attorney General Eric Holder’s ongoing efforts, in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service and ACLU attorneys, to brief black preachers on how to participate in the 2012 election, while maintaining their 501c3 tax exempt status for religious institutions.
In an interview with MSNBC Congressional Black Caucus chair Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) illuminated the transparently leftist agenda of these efforts. ”We’re going to talk about some of the draconian laws that have cropped up around the country as a result of the 17 percent increase in African American votes,” Cleaver said. He further described voter ID laws as a form of Jim Crow-style “poll tax” on seniors and black voters, and characterized the preachers’ participation as a “theological responsibility to participate in the political process.”
Part of that process ought to be an acknowledgment of the law. Voter ID laws were upheld in a 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court in 2008 with liberal Justice John Paul Stevens writing that voter ID “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.” Despite this ruling, Eric Holder has blocked the implementation of voter ID laws in both Texas and South Carolina.
Threatening Florida for its efforts to update it voter rolls is nothing more than the latest tactic instigated by the DOJ to maintain potentially ineligible voters in the mix for the 2012 election. That the DHS would deny Florida the most up-to-date information to aid its efforts, even as the DOJ accuses the state of inaccurate purging, reeks of political collusion. Seventy percent of Americans, including 52 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents and 87 percent of Republicans support voter ID laws. Purging state voter rolls of ineligible voters is equally critical for maintaining the integrity of the election process. Those who would undermine that integrity under the false banners of racism and/or disenfranchisement are shameless charlatans.
Add this latest effort to a long list of reasons why Attorney General Eric Holder should resign – and why the next head of the DOJ should do a thorough housecleaning of that ideologically compromised department.
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