There has been a development you won’t believe.
Back in July of last year, the Voting Rights section of the Department of Justice announced it had filed a lawsuit against Louisiana and a number of Louisiana state agencies and officials alleging that the state has violated its obligations under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), or Motor Voter law.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, alleges that Louisiana has violated the NVRA by failing to provide voter registration services at offices providing public assistance and serving persons with disabilities in Louisiana. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Louisiana officials have not routinely offered voter registration forms, assistance and services to the state’s eligible citizens who apply, recertify or provide a change address for public assistance or disability services, or benefits.
We don’t have a problem with voter registration in Louisiana. In fact, this state ranks fourth in the entire country in terms of voter registration with 78.4 percent of the eligible electorate registered to vote. By the standard set down by DOJ in demanding governmental agencies proselytize voter registration, 47 states of 50 are subject to lawsuit.
But that doesn’t matter much to the people at the Department of Justice.
“The voting process begins with registration. Therefore, it is essential that all citizens have unfettered access to voter registration opportunities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, at the time. “The department is committed to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act so that neither income nor disability status stands in the way of equal voter registration opportunities for all citizens.”
The lawsuit sought a court order declaring that Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler has failed to comply with the requirements of Section 7 of the NVRA, and requiring Louisiana to take all necessary steps to come into compliance with federal law. The suit seeks to require Louisiana to effectively publicize the required voter registration opportunities and provide the court with a remedial plan that will ensure future compliance.
The DOJ’s lawsuit was essentially a copycat suit to one filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans in May of 2011. The first suit was filed by Project Vote, which is an ACORN-affiliated organization, and the NAACP, and it was substantially identical in alleging that Louisiana’s governmental agencies were not registering recipients of state benefits to vote with sufficient vigor.
Specifically, the suit claims a violation of the NVRA because Louisiana is construing the Act only to apply to “in person” voter registration applications at public assistance and disability offices designated as voter registration agencies rather than interpreting the NVRA to apply to remote applications for public assistance and disability services by telephone, mail, and/or online. Louisiana offers online voter registration with verification available through the Department of Motor Vehicles or Social Security Administration; allowing unlimited registration by mail, online and telephone is an open invitation to chaos and fraud.
The NAACP/Project Vote suit alleges that “Substantial evidence demonstrates that Louisiana is failing to provide mandatory voter registration services at its public assistance offices as required by the NVRA. For example, the most recent report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission reveals that Louisiana public assistance agencies collected only 8,688 voter registration applications in 2007-2008. This represents an 88% decline since 1995-1996, when Louisiana reported 74,636 registrations from public assistance offices.”
An “88 percent decline” would be suggestive of a cause of action in its own right were voter registration subject to renewal, as for example a driver’s license is. But in fact voter registration is not renewable; once someone is registered to vote they stay that way so long as they don’t move, become convicted of a felony or otherwise become ineligible to vote in their former precinct. The NAACP lawsuit offers no proof that Louisiana is violating the Motor Voter law, particularly if the decline in voter registration at public assistance offices is the main plank in the plaintiffs’ argument; it’s just as easy to make the argument that by 2007-08 Louisiana had registered nearly everyone on public assistance who had interest in registering than it is to say a state with 78.4 percent voter registration is attempting to deny it to eligible adults at government offices.
The defendants in the two identical cases – namely, the State of Louisiana – attempted to have them merged into a single case in an effort to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs. That didn’t happen. The judge in the DOJ case, the one being heard in Baton Rouge, is James Brady – the same federal judge who has become notorious for protecting convicted murderers from jury-imposed death sentences on a serial basis, most notably in the case of Kevan Brumfield, who murdered Baton Rouge Police Cpl. Betty Smothers (the mother of NFL star Warrick Dunn) in 1993. Brady, a former Louisiana Democrat Party chairman, has reportedly been pulling strings to keep the two cases alive separately.
Meanwhile, in an effort to bully the state of Louisiana and perhaps bolster its case, Justice last month engaged in an extraordinary bit of fishing for statistical data – an expedition which should open the eyes of even the most complacent observer. In a request for production of documents, DOJ demanded…
“All data, produced in a format agreed upon by the parties, from Louisiana’s voter registration database relating to the following for each and every registered voter:
(a) all identifying and demographic information (e.g., all data relating to a voter’s current and former names, current and former addresses, current and former counties of residence, date of birth, full social security number, current and former driver’s license numbers, race and/or ethnicity, and all current and former internal identification numbers assigned to each registered voter); and
(b) all information related to the place (e.g., by mail, from a public assistance agency, from a disability services agency, etc.) and date of a voter’s initial and subsequence registrations; and
(c) all information related to any changes or updates to each voter’s registration record (e.g., all data reflecting the dates and times that an individual’s voter registration record was changed, including all data regarding the dates of all changes of address or changes in registration status; all data and related information tracked in the “sys change journal”).
DOJ said, in the alternative, that it would happily accept Louisiana’s “complete voter registration database, including data related to voter turnout history and any other such data not requested above” as an alternative.
The Project Vote/NAACP case, otherwise known as the Ferrand case, is set for trial next month. No date has been set for trial on the DOJ case. In the meantime, Eric Holder is interested in getting your social security number, your current and former address and pretty much everything else he can get – in advance of this fall’s election.
One wonders if that information wouldn’t make its way to the ACORN alumni at Project Vote.
For his part, Schedler says he’ll gladly go to jail rather than part with that data. And if that happens, perhaps someone should effect an arrest of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for his continued contempt of a federal court in New Orleans with the intention of a prisoner swap.
In the meantime, the DOJ’s efforts at intimidating the states on voting issues seem to be waning in Florida…
In a victory for Republicans, the federal government has agreed to let Florida use a law enforcement database to challenge people’s right to vote if they are suspected of not being U.S. citizens.
The agreement, made in a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration that was obtained by The Associated Press, grants the state access to a list of resident noncitizens maintained by the Homeland Security Department. The Obama administration had denied Florida’s request for months but relented after a judge ruled in the state’s favor in a related voter-purge matter.
Florida’s attempt to purge illegal aliens from its voter rolls has been a hot-button matter in the Sunshine State, with the absurd failure of the feds to cooperate by offering the most accurate database possible of who the illegals are so that legitimate voters aren’t disenfranchised by efforts at eliminating the illegitimate ones.
One wonders if a similar capitulation by DOJ in Louisiana will be forthcoming. The advent of the Project Vote trial in New Orleans next month will likely be a circus to put the one Justice put on last week in its trial against Texas’ voter ID law…
The clown show saw another DOJ expert, paid thousands of dollars by you, the taxpayer, opine that vast numbers of Texans do not have photo identification. On that list were President George Bush, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Phil Gramm. These days that’s called an epic fail.
But the testimony got even more ridiculous. San Antonio teenager Victoria Rodriguez travelled the whole way to Washington, D.C., for the clown show. She testified that she did not have photo ID, even though she had the birth certificate to get a free one. Her excuse? She couldn’t find the time. Neither could her parents be bothered to drive her to get the ID. One wonders if Victoria Rodriguez ever leaves the house, or when she does, if she has other priorities besides voting. I’d suspect so.
One also wonders why DOJ lawyers decided to put her on the stand.
Then another DOJ expert kept the clown show rolling along when he relied on a list of voters “disenfranchised” because they didn’t have voter ID. On that list was a white man named Rodney Ellis. Except there was one problem: state Senator Rodney Ellis testified from the stand he has a driver’s license. Oh, there was another problem with the DOJ expert list – Ellis is also black.
This is the quality of data being used to scare minorities into thinking millions of people will be disenfranchised in November through voter ID.
The clown show also featured a DOJ expert who compared Justices Scalia and Thomas to the segregationist racist justices in the Dred Scott decision. Just wait until that’s made known to the Supreme Court.
Don’t forget that the clown show saw Texas Election Director Keith Ingram on the stand. The DOJ experts had identified Ingram and his wife (twice) as voters without photo identification. Ingram pulled his photo ID out of his wallet on the stand. The expert hired by DOJ was paid thousands of tax dollars for a report relying on this faulty data.
These are the people who want your confidential information. Certainly they can be trusted with it, right?