The Baton Rouge Business Report had some good news this afternoon…
The U.S. government has dropped its efforts to obtain personal information about every registered voter in the state, as well as all those who receive public assistance or disability services. Federal authorities were seeking databases containing identifying and demographic information for their lawsuit against the state of Louisiana over alleged violations of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. The 2011 complaint claims that state officials have not routinely offered voter registration forms, assistance and services to the state’s eligible citizens who interact with its agencies that provide public assistance or disability services. Initially, the information being sought from Louisiana included current and past home addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, drivers’ license numbers, mothers’ maiden names, telephone numbers, email addresses and digitized signatures. In a notice that it was dropping its request for the documents, Bradley Heard of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division notes he now has much of the information he needs, in part thanks to a federal judge’s ruling in a New Orleans case in which the NAACP sued the state of Louisiana and recently won over similar issues. Heard adds that the government was also withdrawing the request “in the interests of accelerating the litigation of this case.” While it isn’t clear yet how much Louisiana ultimately will spend defending itself in both lawsuits, the New Orleans judge has ordered the state to pay attorneys’ fees and costs in that case. The NAACP and the plaintiffs have submitted a bill totaling more than $3 million. The case is on appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.
A sigh of relief is warranted here, though had the Justice Department continued to press for all of that crazy information and the public gotten wind of it on anything resembling a large scale it might have been an existential threat to the Louisiana Democrat Party. If the word had gotten out that Obama’s DOJ was really trying to get a friendly judge to turn loose information on 2.9 million Louisiana registered voters that many of us feel comfortable paying LifeLock to keep secret, the retribution against that party would have all but put them out of business.
The case isn’t over yet, though, as DOJ is trying to get Louisiana to embark on an effort at registering voters at public benefit offices so unreasonably intense that the pressure to accede to voter fraud efforts like ACORN and their allies regularly engage in would be irresistible. And for that reason we need to keep watching.