Campaign against alleged voter fraud sought to bolster the GOP--WASHINGTON -- For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates, according to former department lawyers and a review of written records.
Joseph Rich, who left his job as chief of the section in 2005, said these events formed an unmistakable pattern.
"As more information becomes available about the administration's priority on combating alleged, but not well substantiated, voter fraud, the more apparent it is that its actions concerning voter ID laws are part of a partisan strategy to suppress the votes of poor and minority citizens," he said.
Former department lawyers, public records and other documents show that since Bush took office, political appointees in the Civil Rights Division have:
• Approved Georgia and Arizona laws that tightened voter ID requirements. A federal judge tossed out the Georgia law as an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of poor voters, and a federal appeals court signaled its objections to the Arizona law on similar grounds last fall, but that litigation was delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court until after the election.
• Issued advisory opinions that overstated a 2002 federal election law by asserting that it required states to disqualify new voting registrants if their identification didn't match that in computer databases, prompting at least three states to reject tens of thousands of applicants mistakenly.
• Done little to enforce a provision of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act that requires state public assistance agencies to register voters. The inaction has contributed to a 50 percent decline in annual registrations at those agencies, to 1 million from 2 million.
• Sued at least six states on grounds that they had too many people on their voter rolls. Some eligible voters were removed in the resulting purges.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
"Administration tried to curb election turnout in key states"