Who knew that Progressives thought that Jimmy Carter was a racist?
The 21-member bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, advocated voted identification laws in 2005.
The commission called voter identification one of “five pillars” that would “build confidence” in the integrity of federal elections. Only three of the 21 commission members voted against requiring photo identification of voters.
2.5: VOTER IDENTIFICATION
A good registration list will ensure that citizens are only registered in one place, but election officials still need to make sure that the person arriving at a polling site is the same one that is named on the registration list. In the old days and in small towns where everyone knows each other, voters did not need to identify themselves. But in the United States, where 40 million people move each year, and in urban areas where some people do not even know the people living in their own apartment building let alone their precinct, some form of identification is needed.
There is no evidence of extensive fraud in U.S. elections or of multiple voting, but both occur, and it could affect the outcome of a close election. The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters. Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important.
The voter identification requirements introduced by HAVA are modest. HAVA requires only first-time voters who register by mail to show an ID, and they can choose from a number of different types of identification. States are encouraged to allow an expansive list of acceptable IDs, including those without a photograph, such as utility bills or government checks. These requirements were not implemented in a uniform manner and, in some cases, not at all. After HAVA was enacted, efforts grew in the states to strengthen voter identification requirements. While 11 states required voter ID in 2001, 24 states now require voters to present an ID at the polls. In addition, bills to introduce or strengthen voter ID requirements are under consideration in 12 other states.
Our Commission is concerned that the different approaches to identification cards might prove to be a serious impediment to voting. There are two broad alternatives to this decentralized and unequal approach to identification cards. First, we could recommend eliminating any requirements for an ID because the evidence of multiple voting is thin, and ID requirements, as some have argued, are "a solution in search of a problem." Alternatively, we could recommend a single national voting identification card. We considered but rejected both alternatives.
We rejected the first option — eliminating any requirements — because we believe that citizens should identify themselves as the correct person on the registration list when they vote. While the Commission is divided on the magnitude of voter fraud — with some believing the problem is widespread and others believing that it is minor — there is no doubt that it occurs. The problem, however, is not the magnitude of the fraud. In close or disputed elections, and there are many, a small amount of fraud could make the margin of difference. And second, the perception of possible fraud contributes to low confidence in the system. A good ID system could deter, detect, or eliminate several potential avenues of fraud— such as multiple voting or voting by individuals using the identities of others or those who are deceased — and thus it can enhance confidence. We view the other concerns about IDs — that they could disenfranchise eligible voters, have an adverse effect on minorities, or be used to monitor behavior — as serious and legitimate, and our proposal below aims to address each concern.
We rejected the second option of a national voting identification card because of the expense and our judgment that if these cards were only used for each election, voters would forget or lose them.
We therefore propose an alternative path. Instead of creating a new card, the Commission recommends that states use "REAL ID" cards for voting purposes. The REAL ID Act, signed into law in May 2005, requires states to verify each individual’s full legal name, date of birth, address, Social Security number, and U.S. citizenship before the individual is issued a driver’s license or personal ID card. The REAL ID is a logical vehicle because the National Voter Registration Act established a connection between obtaining a driver’s license and registering to vote. The REAL ID card adds two critical elements for voting — proof of citizenship and verification by using the full Social Security number.
The REAL ID Act does not require that the card indicates citizenship, but that would need to be done if the card is to be used for voting purposes. In addition, state bureaus of motor vehicles should automatically send the information to the state’s bureau of elections. (With the National Voter Registration Act, state bureaus of motor vehicles ask drivers if they want to register to vote and send the information only if the answer is affirmative.)
Reliance on REAL ID, however, is not enough. Voters, who do not drive, including older citizens, should have the opportunity to register to vote and receive a voter ID. Where they will need identification for voting, IDs should be easily available and issued free of charge. States would make their own decision whether to use REAL ID for voting purposes or instead to rely on a template form of voter ID. Each state would also decide whether to require voters to present an ID at the polls, but our Commission recommends that states use the REAL ID and/or an EAC template for voting, which would be a REAL ID card without reference to a driver’s license.
For the next two federal elections, until January 1, 2010, in states that require voters to present ID at the polls, voters who fail to do so should nonetheless be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, and their ballot would count if their signature is verified. After the REAL ID is phased in, i.e., after January 1, 2010, voters without a valid photo ID, meaning a REAL ID or an EAC-template ID, could cast a provisional ballot, but they would have to return personally to the appropriate election office within 48 hours with a valid photo ID for their vote to be counted.
To verify the identity of voters who cast absentee ballots, the voter’s signature on the absentee ballot can be matched with a digitized version of the signature that the election administrator maintains. While such signature matches are usually done, they should be done consistently in all cases, so that election officials can verify the identity of every new registrant who casts an absentee ballot.
The introduction of voter ID requirements has raised concerns that they may present a barrier to voting, particularly by traditionally marginalized groups, such as the poor and minorities, some of whom lack a government-issued photo ID. They may also create obstacles for highly mobile groups of citizens. Part of these concerns are addressed by assuring that government-issued photo identification is available without expense to any citizen and, second, by government efforts to ensure that all voters are provided convenient opportunities to obtain a REAL ID or EAC-template ID card. As explained in Section 4.1, the Commission recommends that states play an affirmative role in reaching out with mobile offices to individuals who do not have a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID to help them register to vote and obtain an ID card.
There are also longstanding concerns voiced by some Americans that national identification cards might be a step toward a police state. On that note, it is worth recalling that most advanced democracies have fraud-proof voting or national ID cards, and their democracies remain strong. Still, these concerns about the privacy and security of the card require additional steps to protect against potential abuse. We propose two approaches. First, new institutional and procedural safeguards should be established to assure people that their privacy, security, and identity will not be compromised by ID cards. The cards should not become instruments for monitoring behavior. Second, certain groups may see the ID cards as an obstacle to voting, so the government needs to take additional measures to register voters and provide ID cards.
The needed measures would consist of legal protections, strict procedures for managing voter data, and creation of ombudsman institutions. The legal protections would prohibit any commercial use of voter data and impose penalties for abuse. The data-management procedures would include background checks on all officials with access to voter data and requirements to notify individuals who are removed from the voter registration list. The establishment of ombudsman institutions at the state level would assist individuals to redress any cases of abuse. The ombudsman would be charged with assisting voters to overcome bureaucratic mistakes and hurdles and respond to citizen complaints about the misuse of data.
The Commission’s recommended approach to voter ID may need to adapt to changes in national policy in the future. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, concerns about homeland security have led to new policies on personal identification. Under a presidential directive, about 40 million Americans who work for or contract with the federal government are being issued ID cards with biometrics, and the REAL ID card may very well become the principal identification card in the country. Driven by security concerns, our country may already be headed toward a national identity card. In the event that a national identity card is introduced, our Commission recommends that it be used for voting purposes as well.
RECOMMENDATIONS ON VOTER IDENTIFICATION
2.5.1 To ensure that persons presenting themselves at the polling place are the ones on the registration list, the Commission recommends that states require voters to use the REAL ID card, which was mandated in a law signed by the President in May 2005. The card includes a person’s full legal name, date of birth, a signature (captured as a digital image), a photograph, and the person’s Social Security number. This card should be modestly adapted for voting purposes to indicate on the front or back whether the individual is a U.S. citizen. States should provide an EAC-template ID with a photo to non-drivers free of charge.
2.5.2 The right to vote is a vital component of U.S. citizenship, and all states should use their best efforts to obtain proof of citizenship before registering voters.
2.5.3 We recommend that until January 1, 2010, states allow voters without a valid photo ID card (Real or EAC-template ID) to vote, using a provisional ballot by signing an affidavit under penalty of perjury. The signature would then be matched with the digital image of the voter’s signature on file in the voter registration database, and if the match is positive, the provisional ballot should be counted. Such a signature match would in effect be the same procedure used to verify the identity of voters who cast absentee ballots. After January 1, 2010, voters who do not have their valid photo ID could vote, but their ballot would only count if they returned to the appropriate election office within 48 hours with a valid photo ID.
2.5.4 To address concerns about the abuse of ID cards, or the fear that it could be an obstacle to voting, states should establish legal protections to prohibit any commercial use of voter data and ombudsman institutions to respond expeditiously to any citizen complaints about the misuse of data or about mistaken purges of registration lists based on interstate matching or statewide updating.
2.5.5 In the event that Congress mandates a national identification card, it should include information related to voting and be connected to voter registration.
In 2008, the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181, held that an Indiana law requiring voters to provide photo IDs did not violate the Constitution of the United States by a vote of 6-3. The majority opinion was written by uber-liberal, John Paul Stevens.
'The relevant burdens here are those imposed on eligible voters who lack photo identification cards that comply with SEA 483. Because Indiana’s cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph DOES NOT QUALIFY AS A SUBSTANTIAL BURDEN ON MOST VOTERS' RIGHT TO VOTE, OR REPRESENT A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE OVER THE USUAL BURDENS OF VOTING.
The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons—e.g., elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate—IS MITIGATED BY THE FACT THAT ELIGIBLE VOTERS WITHOUT PHOTO IDENTIFICATION MAY CAST PROVISIONAL BALLOTS that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk’s office.
Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek.'
- Associate Justice John Paul Stevens of the United State Supreme Court, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008)
A Few Polls:
- Almost three-quarters of all Americans support the idea that people should have to show photo identification to vote, even though they are nearly as concerned about voter suppression as they are about fraud in presidential elections, according to a new Washington Post poll.
- 75% of likely U.S. voters ‘believe voters should be required to show photo identification, such as a driver’s licence, before being allowed to vote.'
- While 44% of Americans perceive partisan politics at play in the support of such laws, far more, 57%, see a genuine interest in fair elections as a big motivator, per WaPo poll.
- 83% of those polled believe laws requiring voters to ‘show identification in order to vote’ is a ‘good thing, per McClatchy.’ (Only 13% see it as a ‘bad thing.’)
- 72% of Democrats see voter ID as a ‘good thing.’
- 65% of those who see themselves as ‘very liberal’ favour voter ID laws.
- 71% percent of Latinos say they support photo ID laws for voters, just 6 percentage points less than the general population’s 77 percent saying this, the poll found.
- Two-thirds of Republicans see voter fraud as a bigger problem; nearly as many Democrats are primarily concerned with denying eligible voters access to the ballot box. per WaPo poll.
Q in Marist, June 2013, poll:
‘Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing if election laws were changed to require voters to show identification in order to vote?’
Of those polled:
National adults: 83%
National Registered Voters: 84%
Very liberal-Liberal 65%
Conservative- very conservative: 94%
Less than $50,000: 84%
$50,000 or more: 82%
Not a college graduate: 85%
College graduate: 91%
60 or older: 81%
Under 45: 78%
45 or Older: 87%
Holder-approved Polling Place Pracitse
Even before Holder lost in Shelby County v Holder, in which the Court - allegedly - 'decimated' - the Voting Rights Act, in the view of some on the Left in June, 2013, Holder was already losing. South Carolina had already sued Holder for blocking its Voter ID laws.
From Heritage Foundation:
'South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has beaten U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder once again in the voter ID litigation bowl, this time in a dispute over costs.
On Friday, January 4, a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia federal court declared that South Carolina was the “prevailing party” under an applicable federal statute that allows the state to obtain reimbursement for its litigation costs from not only the Justice Department (DOJ), but the so-called civil rights organizations like the NAACP and the South Carolina Progressive Network that intervened in the lawsuit to stop the state’s voter ID statute.
The court considered South Carolina the prevailing party because although it “did not obtain everything it sought,” South Carolina did achieve its main objective: “[I]t obtained preclearance of Act R54 for elections in 2013 and subsequent years.”
The expenses for which South Carolina was seeking reimbursement are relatively minor in comparison to the overall expenses that the state incurred successfully fighting the DOJ. The court awarded South Carolina the costs of various transcripts of depositions, hearings, the trial, and the audio recordings of the legislative history of the voter ID law. According to Wilson, the state spent $3.5 million in total on costs and attorneys’ fees.
The civil rights organizations tried to persuade the court to not award costs against them because “their participation should be encouraged and because they cannot afford to pay.” But such costs are “routinely” awarded against losing parties in civil rights litigation, and the court questioned the credibility of the organizations’ claims, saying that they had “failed to establish an inability to pay costs given their hefty expenditures throughout the litigation.”
In fact, the NAACP independent auditors’ report for 2011 shows almost $14 million in total assets, so the organization’s claim made to a federal court that it cannot pay such costs was highly questionable.
On October 10, 2012, Holder’s Justice Department lost the original lawsuit that Wilson filed to overturn the DOJ’s spurious objection to South Carolina’s voter ID law. The objection was raised by the DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas Perez, with the approval of Attorney General Holder.
Under an “emergency” provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was supposed to expire in 1970 (but has been extended several times since then), such an objection from the DOJ can automatically block a state law unless the state files suit in a court in Washington, D.C., and prevails.
Given South Carolina’s sensible law—which expanded the kinds of photo IDs that could be used to vote and made it easier to obtain a free ID—the same three-judge panel that ruled in favor of South Carolina regarding reimbursement ruled that voter ID was not discriminatory under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as the DOJ had claimed. But by then it was too late to implement the lawful state voter ID law in time for the November election.
This case illustrates two things. One is how expensive it can be to take on the U.S. Justice Department, even when the DOJ is wrong. Two is how additional facts show that ideology and politics drive the Holder Justice Department rather than the rule of law. This was aptly illustrated not just by the DOJ losing a very weak case where the facts and legal precedent were squarely against it, but by the Civil Rights Division then giving one of its highest awards, the Walter W. Barnett Memorial Award, on November 28 to the leading DOJ trial lawyer after he lost the South Carolina voter ID case.
So while taxpayers are stuck reimbursing South Carolina for the Justice Department’s share of its costs, the DOJ lawyers responsible for losing the case and pushing the DOJ’s unwarranted objection are rewarded.
One suspects the award was just another way for the Holder Justice Department to signal its employees and liberal activist allies that it does not care what the rule of law requires. It will continue to use the levers of power for its own ideological or partisan ends—unless and until the people or the courts stop them.'
And, if that wasn't enough salt in the race-baiters' wounds!!!
Federal Court: DOJ Must Reimburse South Carolina for Voter ID Folly
(Former, now Secretary of
LaRaza Labour) AAG Tom Perez
'A federal court has ruled that South Carolina was the prevailing party in the unnecessary Voter ID litigation, and therefore the Justice Department is liable for paying the state’s costs. South Carolina spent $3,500,000 to obtain federal court approval of the state’s Voter ID law as non-discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit was made necessary only because of the political and ideological radicalism of Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez and his deputy Matthew Colangelo.
PJ Media had this exclusive report detailing that career Voting Section employees, including Voting Section Chief Chris Herren, recommended that the Voter ID law be approved in the first place by DOJ after a careful written analysis inside the Voting Section. Documents prepared by the career staff urged Perez and Colangelo to grant administrative approval to the South Carolina Voter ID law — but they refused. Their refusal was, in part, designed to energize a moribund political base heading into the 2012 election. The cost to the American taxpayers for their stunt will be significant.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office was quick to respond to the court’s ruling late yesterday:
“The state Attorney General’s Office blamed the U.S. Department of Justice for the high cost of the case. They accused the federal government of delaying the case by 120 days by filing numerous frivolous motions, including challenging the 12-point font size on a document the state filed.
“The Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., bears responsibility for the litigation costs,” said Mark Powell, Wilson’s spokesman. “The decision was so emphatic, even the Department of Justice and Interveners did not appeal it. South Carolina was forced to pay a hefty price because a handful of Washington insiders refused to do the right thing.”
Whether Congress will hold Perez and Colangelo accountable remains to be seen.
Members of Congress, including Senator Lindsey Graham, have already demanded that Perez turn over the documents about which PJ Media first reported on September 11, 2012. So far, sources tell me that Graham has not received what he has asked for, though he may already possess the documents from other sources.
Tellingly, DOJ has not denied that such internal approval memos exist. They can’t.
All of this raises the question — will Perez and Colangelo be held accountable for what amounted to an expensive use of the Justice Department to energize President Obama’s political base? As we now know, there was no merit to the objection. A federal court approved the law. The many career staff who looked at it said the South Carolina law did not discriminate.
Congress might get answers if they haul DOJ Voting Section Chief Christopher Herren before the House Judiciary Committee for answers. The Democrats could hardly object — after all, they dragged Bush-era Voting Section Chief John Tanner before the Democrat-run House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about Georgia Voter ID. There is precedent. Democrats could hardly object when the Voting Section Chief during the Bush administration was made to dance the dance before the Committee.
And the pure Schadenfreude doesn't stop there: The NAACP and the South Carolina Progressive Network were ALSO forced to reimburse the State of South Carolina!
And, it's not fair!
From John Fund:
Attorney General Eric Holder is a staunch opponent of laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls to improve ballot security. He calls them “unnecessary” and has blocked their implementation in Texas and South Carolina, citing the fear they would discriminate against minorities.
I wonder what Holder will think when he learns just how easy it was for someone to be offered his ballot just by mentioning his name in a Washington, D.C., polling place in Tuesday’s primaries.
Holder’s opposition to ID laws comes in spite of the Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision in 2008, authored by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, which upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s tough ID requirement. When groups sue to block photo-ID laws in court, they can’t seem to produce real-world examples of people who have actually been denied the right to vote.
According to opinion polls, over 75 percent of Americans — including majorities of Hispanics and African-Americans — routinely support such laws.
MRCtv asks minorities if voter ID laws are racist:
Selma Commemorative March, 2007
No mention of the 2007 Selma march would be complete without Senator Barack Obama's faerie tale:
'What happened in Selma, Alabama and Birmingham also stirred the conscience of the nation...This young man named Barack Obama...came over to this country. He met this woman...(who) had a good idea there was some craziness going on because they looked at each other and they decided...it might...be possible for us to get together and have a child. There was something stirring across the country because of what HAPPENED (Note: PAST TENSE) in Selma, Alabama... So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don't tell me I'm not coming home to Selma, Alabama.'
- Senator Barack Obama, 4 March 2007
4 August 1961: Barack Obama’s birthday
7 March 1965: First Selma March
Holder amongst 'His People' at the Selma Commemorative March
Add this to "The Heights of Hypocrisy Award" nominations' list. H/T New York Sun:
As you may know, the New York chapter of the ACLU is suing the city for random bag checks in the subway system. But guess who’s checking bags in their own offices? You got it, the NYCLU. The sign outside the office says, quote, “Please have photo ID ready for inspection. All packages are subject to inspection upon entering and leaving the premises.”
Whoa! Got to love that NYCLU. To not do so would be ridiculous. It’s great. I mean, like, um, seriously, how will all of those "disenfranchised voters" be able to get into the NYCLU offices to file complaints about their disenfranchisement without photo ID?
At the foot of the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where then-Senator Obama, John Lewis, other dignitaries, and various riff-raff like the ‘New Black Panther Party, recreated their march on 4 March 2007 is located the National Voting Rights Museum and has become the nation’s preeminent voting right museum. Undoubtedly, it was noble in its intent, but, over the years, it has become both a veritable monument to every rightful hero and huckster (Tawana, really?) and symbol of the degeneration in the civil rights movement encompassed with a patina of Social Justice. A Detroit that caught up in a Snarknado and was plopped down in Selma.
Your tax dollars at work at revisionist history
‘Its outlook is neatly captured in ten words that begin its timeline display of the civil rights movement. There, we find a replica of John Trumball’s iconic depiction of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with the caption, “1776. The Declaration of Independence signed by wealthy white men.”
The original civil rights giants would never have tolerated this historically false assertion. They were patriots, driven by love for their fellow countrymen and a burning desire to make America a better place for all its citizens. They repeatedly and vehemently rejected hatred. But the nasty caption captures the bitter spirit of much of the civil rights movement today and of numerous race-based activist groups around the country.’
- J Christian Adams
If you want to study an egregious case of racial suppression and oppression then look NO FURTHER than Ike Brown, the Chairman of the Democrat Party in Noxubee County, Mississippi.
The Ike Brown Case: Is the DOJ About to Fail Another Race-Based Test? Will the DOJ once again show hostility towards race-neutral protection of voting rights?
'Coming soon: An Unavoidable Decision About Race-Neutral Enforcement of Voting Laws.
By Christian Adams, court records are available), 11 July, 2010
Last week, I testified under oath that pervasive and open hostility exists within the Justice Department towards race-neutral enforcement of voting rights laws. This week, we will all learn a great deal more about the Justice Department’s unwillingness to enforce voting laws equally and in a racially fair way.
To the many who know firsthand of the existence of this hostility, the Department’s current denials seem absurd, if not deceitful. I have urged the advocates of these positions — of which there are many inside and outside the DOJ — to come forward and openly engage in this debate so millions of Americans can hear their arguments for why all Americans should not be protected under the Voting Rights Act by the Justice Department. So far, silence. Even the NAACP registered a “no comment” to a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist last week. We know what that usually means.
But this week we should get some clarity. And I’ll wager that Americans aren’t going to like what they hear.
This story hails from rural east Mississippi: majority black Noxubee County is home to Ike Brown, one of the most lawless purveyors of racial discrimination the nation has seen in decades. (I have written in greater detail about the racially motivated lawlessness Brown used to victimize minority white voters in the county.) Brown canceled ballots cast by white voters. He stuffed the ballot box with illegal ballots supporting his preferred black candidates. He deployed teams of notaries to roam the countryside and mark absentee ballots instead of voters. He allowed forced assistance in the voting booth, to the detriment of white voters. He threatened 174 white voters by declaring that if they tried to participate in an election, he might challenge them and not let them vote. He publicized the 174 names.
Brown ran the primary elections because he is the Democratic Party chairman. At the trial, a woman on Brown’s list testified that she was too afraid to vote because she thought she might be arrested.
The federal court found that the publication of the list of 174 names was an illegal form of intentional racial discrimination. The United States district court held:
The question is whether Brown’s action with respect to this list of 174 voters was actuated by these party loyalty concerns or whether this was pretext for a true purpose to discourage white voters from coming to the polls, or some combination of the two. The court has carefully weighed the evidence and finds that while party concerns were a factor in Brown’s actions, race played a role as well. … In sum, the court is of the opinion that Brown had the names of these white voters published in part because of party loyalty concerns, but also as an attempt to discourage white voters from voting in the 2003 Democratic primary.
Brown’s overall behavior was so outrageous that the court stripped him of all authority to run elections until 2012, and gave the power to a former justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court as a special administrator. The remedy was unprecedented, but upheld on appeal because of the brazen lawlessness of Ike Brown.
Fast forward to 2010, to the Eric Holder Justice Department.
Every change in voting in Mississippi must be submitted for approval to the DOJ voting section — where I worked for five years — under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 gives the DOJ power to object to any change motivated by a discriminatory racial intent or with a discriminatory racial effect in nine states and portions of seven. Changes to the law in 2006 made it clear that any discrimination would suffice to trigger an objection under the act.
Right now, the Holder Justice Department has a submission from Ike Brown to allow him to do precisely the same thing he tried in 2003 — prevent people from voting based on their party loyalties.
The Department must decide this week if white victims are worth protecting, by imposing an objection to the same behavior a federal court has already ruled was motivated by an illegal racial intent. If the races were reversed in this submission, there is zero doubt the DOJ would object to the proposal.
Alas, the races aren’t reversed, and I predict there is zero chance that the DOJ will object to Brown’s submission.
Why? For the same reasons I testified about to the United States Civil Rights Commission: there is an open and pervasive hostility within the DOJ towards using the voting laws to protect all races. Instead, the laws are viewed by many in the DOJ — particularly by the political leadership, such as Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes — only as tools to protect national racial minorities and increase their voter turnout.
I also have some inside information.
I have spoken with the victims of Brown’s past illegal behavior in Mississippi, and the DOJ hadn’t even bothered to contact any of them. In a Section 5 submission involving an African-American minority, it is standard DOJ practice to make extensive contacts with the minority community. That hasn’t happened since Brown submitted his scheme for approval on May 14, 2010. No calls, no emails, no nothing out of Justice. No concern, most likely.
In fact, the same white voters who were victimized by Brown in 2003 have begged the DOJ in multiple letters to interpose an objection to Brown’s request to bar people from voting.
Even worse for the Department, Brown told one person last month that he explicitly chose a cutoff date (where if you voted for a Republican before a certain date you could still vote in a Democratic primary) because it would preserve the ability for a number of specific black individuals to continue to participate. Does the DOJ know about this nakedly racial motivation? No — because they didn’t even do the analysis under Section 5.
So here are the choices the Department has available by July 13:
They could object to the submission, which is the right thing to do. This would demonstrate they are at last willing to enforce Section 5 with racial fairness regardless of the race of the victim. All this option requires is a letter.
They could officially ask for more information, but this only extends the clock for 60 days and the same decision will need to be made eventually.
They could make a “no determination” ruling. This means that the matter isn’t ripe for a decision because Brown is not running the elections until 2012. Of course this is a cop-out, because Brown will be running elections with this scheme as a party rule once he resumes control. A “no determination” letter would have the same effect as approval, and leave the victims without any protection.
A final option would be to ask the federal court judge under a different part of the law to stop Brown from implementing the scheme to bar voters from voting. But if it isn’t ripe to object, then it isn’t ripe to sue either. Worse — talk about cost! This would require travel, a hearing, witnesses, and many other costs to the Department. What about those oft-cited resource concerns? Worse yet, there is a risk the DOJ will not win. Judge Tom Lee is a cautious jurist, and he may not wade into a mess with so many uncertainties. Add a contentious tangle in other Mississippi courts about challenges to party loyalty oaths, and you can see why a lawsuit or court action seems like a bad idea. It certainly is not designed to help the voters with a high certainty of a favorable outcome.
Bottom line, if this Justice Department was truly interested in enforcing the law in a race neutral fashion, they could stop Brown’s discriminatory scheme for the cost of a postage stamp. A simple objection letter would prevent him from implementing a practice Judge Lee already has found to violate the law. Any other choice by Holder this week, other than an objection letter, will broadcast DOJ’s disdain toward equal enforcement of the voting laws.
Not only has the Department never lodged an objection under Section 5 to a plan which discriminates against a white minority, they don’t even conduct the analysis. The DOJ will not be able to produce a single document over the 45-year history of the Voting Rights Act where the bureaucrats even considered this possibility.
In the now famous going-away speech of former voting section chief Christopher Coates, he demonstrated the danger of this policy:
'Since many minority officials are now involved in the administration of elections in many jurisdictions, it is imperative that they believe that the anti-discrimination and anti-intimidation provisions of the Voting Rights Act will be enforced against them by the Justice Department, just as it is imperative that white election officials believe that Justice will enforce the provisions of the Voting Rights Act against them. I fear that actions that indicate that the Justice Department is not in the business of suing minority election officials, or not in the business of filing suits to protect white voters from discrimination or intimidation, will only encourage election officials, who are so inclined, to violate the Voting Rights Act.
The third reason for race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act so that all persons are protected from discrimination or intimidation regardless of their race is that fair enforcement of the VRA is important for its very survival. America is increasingly a multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural society. For such a diverse group of people to be able to live and function together in a democratic society, there have to be certain common standards that we are bound by and that protect us all. In fact, as we become more diverse, it is even more important that our national standards of non-discrimination are enforced by the federal government.'
Coates mentions something important that opponents of race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act should hear loud and clear.
If the DOJ does not start to use Section 5 to protect a victimized white minority, as they can this week in Noxubee County, then the constitutionality of the law is jeopardized. If no objection to Brown’s scheme is interposed, the three separate plaintiffs currently suing Holder to have Section 5 declared unconstitutional in other cases should do extensive discovery against the voting section and their unwillingness to enforce Section 5 to protect all racial minorities, regardless of their race. The plaintiffs should introduce this hostility into the case record as part of their constitutional challenges to Section 5, so that Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and most importantly, Kennedy, can learn firsthand how the voting section does not equally enforce the law to protect all types of racial minorities.
Or, even better, the DOJ voting section can issue an objection this week to Brown’s racially discriminatory scheme. The DOJ lawyers defending the constitutionality of Section 5 from three separate attacks would probably thank you.
Patriots of all races gave their lives to enshrine racial equality in this country, via the 14th and 15th Amendments and then during the Civil Rights movement. The beneficiaries of these sacrifices should not be limited, either. The Department should undergo a searching examination as to why they are unwilling to enforce voting laws in a racially fair fashion and change course.
Let’s get one thing straight: enforcing voting laws in a racially unfair way is not necessarily racist. Just because some are hostile to equal enforcement of the law does not mean that racism lurks in their hearts. Judge Alex Kozinski wrote of this distinction in a voting rights case, Garza v. Los Angeles. Simply, one can take actions which intentionally harm someone because of their race even if the actor does not hold racial animus in their heart towards that race. The intentional action, such as not equally enforcing the law, is racially discriminatory, even if it is not motivated by racism. Thus, I have never claimed that the unequal enforcement of these voting laws means anyone at the Justice Department is racist, as some have lazily characterized my columns. This is obviously a rhetorical snare laid by the defenders of the Department’s unequal enforcement policies — a snare Judge Kozinski’s thoughtful opinion allows reasonable people to entirely avoid.
Inside and outside the DOJ, some will snicker at the notion that the provisions of Section 5 should be used to protect whites and Asians when they are in the minority in a covered jurisdiction. Please snicker so the rest of America can hear you. It’s time you engage the debate, or else you are about to lose it badly without ever having spoken up.
We've come a long way, baby, from MLK's 'I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character' to Reverend Al Sharpton's:
You also will NEVER find this in a public school history book or at the Selma Museum:
The first judicially-sanctioned slave owner, Anthony Johnson, in the Colonies that became the United States of America
Every Vote Counts, But Some Votes Count More Than Others ... Especially If They Are Cast For Democrats